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Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - In his general audience today Benedict XVI, continuing a series of catecheses on the subject of Catholic faith, focused on what, he said, "is a fascinating aspect of human and Christian experience: the fact that man carries within him a mysterious desire for God".

Such an affirmation, the Pope went on, "may seem provocative in the context of secularised Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could, in fact, object that they feel not the slightest desire for God. For large sectors of society He is no longer awaited or desired; rather He leaves people indifferent, something about which they do not even have to make an effort to express themselves.

"Yet the fact is that what we have defined as 'desire for God' has not completely disappeared and still today it emerges in man's heart in many different ways. Human desire always tends towards certain concrete things which are often anything but spiritual, yet it nonetheless has to consider the question of what good truly is, and this means facing something other than itself, something man cannot construct but is called to recognise. What is it that can truly satisfy man's desire?

"In my first Encyclical 'Deus caritas est' I sought to examine how this phenomenon is realised in the experience of human love, which in our time is most easily recognised as a moment of ecstasy and abandonment, a place in which man has the experience of being overcome by a desire greater than himself. Through love a man and a woman, the one thanks to the other, enjoy a new experience of the greatness and beauty of life and reality. If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I truly wish the other's good, also as a way to my own good, then I must be ready not to focus on my own self, to place myself at the service of the other, even to the point of self-renouncement. Thus the answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love involves the purification and healing of desire, which is a requirement of the love we bear the other.

"We must exercise, train and correct ourselves so that we can truly love others", Pope Benedict added. Yet "not even the beloved is capable of satisfying the desire that dwells in the human heart. Quite the contrary, the more authentic our love for another person is, the more it raises the question about the origin and destiny of that love, the possibility that it may last forever".

"Similar considerations could also be made about other human experiences such as friendship, the experience of beauty or love of knowledge. Everything good that man experiences tends towards the mystery which surrounds man himself. Each desire that arises in the human heart is an echo of a fundamental desire which is never fully sated".

The Holy Father went on: "Man is well aware of what does not satisfy him, but is unable to imagine or define that which would make him experience that happiness for which his heart longs. We cannot know God on the basis only of human desire. Here there is an abiding mystery: man is searching for the absolute, but his search advances with slow and hesitant steps".

"Even in our own time, which seems so averse to the transcendent dimension" it is possible "to open the way towards an authentic religious sense of life which shows how the gift of faith is neither absurd nor irrational", said Benedict XVI. In this context he proposed "a pedagogy of desire, ... including at least two aspects: Firstly, the acquisition or reacquisition of a taste for the authentic joys of life. Not all satisfactions produce the same effect upon us; some leave positive traces and are capable of pacifying our hearts making us more active and generous. Others, on the other hand, following the initial light they bring, seem to delude the expectations that aroused them and sometimes leave bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness in their wake".

A second aspect of the pedagogy of desire consists of "never being satisfied with the goals we have reached", said the Holy Father. "It is the most authentic joys which are able to liberate within us that sense of healthy disquiet which leads us to be more demanding, to desire a more exalted or more profound good, and at the same time to becoming increasingly aware that nothing finite can fill our hearts. Thus will we learn to tend, unarmed, towards that good which we cannot construct or procure by our own efforts, without allowing ourselves to be discouraged by the fatigue or obstacles that come from our sin".

Finally the Holy Father noted that "desire always remains open to redemption, even when it takes the wrong paths, when it seeks artificial paradises and seems to lose its capacity to desire the true good. Even in the abyss of sin man never loses that spark which enables him to recognise and savour what is truly good, and to start along the path of ascension on which God, with the gift of His grace, will not fail to give His aid".

"This does not mean, then, smothering the desire that is in man's heart, but liberating it so that it can reach its true height. When desire opens a window to God this is a sign of the presence of faith in a person's heart, faith which is a grace of God", Benedict XVI concluded.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - At the end of his general audience, the Pope launched the following appeal for peace in Syria.

"I continue to follow with great concern the tragic situation of violent conflict in Syria, where the fighting has not ceased and each day the toll of victims rises, accompanied by the untold suffering of many civilians, especially those who have been forced to abandon their homes.

"As a sign of my own solidarity and that of the whole Church for the Syrian people, as well as our spiritual closeness to the Christian communities in that country, I had hoped to send a Delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus.

"Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances and developments, it was not possible to carry out this initiative as planned, and so I have decided to entrust a special mission to Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum'.

"From today until 10 November, he will be in Lebanon, where he will meet the pastors and faithful of the Churches present in Syria. He will visit a number of refugees from that country and will chair a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies to coordinate efforts, as the Holy See has urgently requested, to provide assistance to the Syrian people, within and outside the country.

"As I make my prayer to God, I renew my invitation to the parties in conflict, and to all those who have the good of Syria at heart, to spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence, in view of a suitable political solution of the conflict.

"We must do everything that is possible, because one day it may be too late!"


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Benedict XVI, through the apostolic nunciature in Washington, U.S.A., has sent a message to Barack Obama, congratulating him on his re-election as president of the United States of America.

In his message the Holy Father expresses his best wishes to the president on his new mandate, and gives assurances of his prayers to God to help him carry out his serious responsibilities, both in his own country and within the international community. The Pope also speaks of his hope that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founding fathers of the Unites States of America, may continue to shine out as the nation progresses.

Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also made a brief comment on the re-election of President Obama. "As we all know", he said, "the U.S. president has an immense responsibility, not only in his own country but also towards the rest of the world, given the role the U.S.A. plays at an international level".

"For this reason we hope that President Obama will respond to his fellow citizens' expectations, serving law and justice for the good and development of all people, and respecting essential human and spiritual values while promoting a culture of life and religious freedom".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father sent a message of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church following the death of His Beatitude Maxim, Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria. "For many years", writes Benedict XVI, the deceased "dutifully served the Lord and His people. In the name of the Catholic Church, I accompany your mourning with my prayers ... and, participating in the mourning of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, I give thanks to God for the good brought by the late Patriarch to his Church and to the people of his country. In particular, I recall the cordial welcome given to Blessed John Paul II ... in May 2002. I thank the Lord for the good relations the Patriarch developed with the Catholic Church, ... and I hope that this good rapport may continue to promote the proclamation of the Gospel".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - On the occasion of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, at 11 a.m. on Monday 12 November Benedict XVI will visit the Sant'Egidio Community's "Viva gli Anziani" home for the elderly in Rome.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Francesco De Pasquale, director of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) since June 2011, has been appointed to the board of the AIF. He is succeeded by Rene Bruelhart, former director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liechtenstein.

Francesco De Pasquale, who has extensive experience at the "Ufficio Italiano Cambi" and the Bank of Italy and has been Director of the AIF since June 2011, has been named a member of the board of AIF, which in addition to the president, Cardinal Attilio Nicora, includes Prof. Condemi, Prof. Dalla Torre, Prof. Bianchi and Dr. Testa.

Cardinal Nicora has named Rene Bruelhart to succeed De Pasquale. Bruelhart, former director of the FIU of Liechtenstein and Vice-President of the Egmont Group, the international network of FIUs, has been an adviser to the Holy See and Vatican City since September in matters relating to action against money laundering and financing of terrorism.

With the promotion of De Pasquale to the Board of Directors and the nomination of Bruelhart to Director, AIF has strengthened its internal organisation. This represents one more step in the effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Jorge Alves Bezerra S.S.S. of Jardim, Brazil, as bishop of Paracatu (area 54,387, population 332,000, Catholics 259,000, priests 44, permanent deacons 13, religious 13), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Leonardo de Miranda Pereira, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Msgr. Eraldo Bispo da Silva, vicar general of Barreiras, as bishop of Patos (area 10,874, population 402,000, Catholics 368,000, priests 49, permanent deacons 8, religious 42), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Monteiro, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1993. He studied in Brazil and Colombia and has been active in pastoral care in several different parishes.

- As ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Vanderlei Salvador Bagnato, professor of physics at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Joachim von Braun, professor of economics and technological innovation, and director of the Research Development Centre at the University of Bonn, Germany.

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