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Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Three ways to knowing God (the world, the human being and the faith) provided the theme for Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father began by explaining that "God's initiative always precedes any initiative on the part of man, and, even on our journey towards Him, it is He Who first illuminates and guides us, while always respecting our freedom. ... God never tires of seeking us, He is faithful to the man He created and redeemed, and He remains close to us because He loves us. This is a certainty which must accompany us every day".

"We know that today the faith faces no lack of difficulties and trials, and its often poorly understood, contested and rejected. ... In the past, in the West, in a society held to be Christian, the faith was the environment in which people moved. Reference and adherence to God were, for most people, part of their daily lives, and it was those who did not believe who felt the need to justify their incredulity. In our world the situation had changed, and believers have to be increasingly able to give reasons for their faith. ... Our own times have seen the emergence of a phenomenon which is particularly dangerous for the faith. There exists, in fact, a form of atheism, which we define as 'practical', in which the truths of faith and religious ritual are not denied but are simply held to be irrelevant to daily existence, detached from life, useless. Often, then, people believe in God superficially but live as if He did not exist. In the final analysis, however, such a lifestyle turns out to be even more destructive, because it leads to indifference towards the faith and towards the question of God.

"The fact is", the Holy Father added, "that separation from God reduces man to a single horizontal dimension. This reduction was one of the fundamental causes of the totalitarian systems which had such tragic consequences last century, and of the crisis of values we are currently witnessing. Obscuring the reference to God has also obscured the ethical horizon".

Faced with this situation the Church, "faithful to Christ's mandate, never ceases to affirm the truth about man and his destiny", said the Pope. Yet, he asked, "what responses is the faith called to give - with 'mildness and respect' - to atheism, scepticism and indifference to the vertical dimension, so that the men and women of our time may continue to question themselves about the existence of God, and follow the paths that lead to Him? I would", he said, "like to mention some of these paths, which derive both from a natural process of reflection and from the power of the faith itself. They are: the world, man, and faith".

Referring to the first of these paths - the world - the Pope expressed the view that "we must recover and restore to modern man the chance to contemplate the creation, its beauty and structure. The world is not some shapeless mass; rather, the more we know it, the more we discover its wonderful mechanisms, the more we see a design, a creative intelligence. Albert Einstein said that the laws of nature reveal 'an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection'".

To explain the second path - the human being - Benedict XVI quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying: 'With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence'".

Turning finally to consider the faith, the Pope noted how "believers are united to God, open to His grace and to the force of charity. ... Their faith is not afraid to show itself in daily life, it is open to a dialogue which expresses profound friendship for all men and women, and is able to bring the light of hope to our need for redemption, happiness and future life. Faith means meeting God Who speaks and works in history. ... A single Christian or a community who are diligent and faithful to the project of the God Who first loved us, are a great help to people experiencing indifference or doubt about His existence and action".

Nowadays, "many people have a limited concept of Christian faith, which they identify as a mere system of beliefs and values, and not as the truth of God revealed throughout history in order to communicate directly with mankind. … In reality, at the basis of all doctrine and values is the encounter between man and God in Jesus Christ. Christianity, rather than a moral or ethical code, is first and foremost the experience of love in welcoming Christ", Benedict XVI concluded.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a message in the name of the Holy Father to the presidents of the Italian Senate and Chamber of Deputies, Renato Schifani and Gianfranco Fini, to commemorate ten years since Blessed John Paul II's visit to the parliament.

"The public session of 14 November 2002 in the Hall of Montecitorio constitutes a memorable page in the history of relations between Italy and the Holy See, an event enriched by the authoritative presence of the venerable figure of the Blessed Pontiff, who greatly desired the meeting in spite of his precarious health".

"Ten years on, in a social context rendered more difficult by the consequences of the economic crisis already predicted at the time, it is necessary to recall his invitation to seek nourishment in the vital lymph of Christianity which inspires the social and cultural identity of Italy, and its mission in Europe and the world. Even in the most difficult times, this spiritual and ethical heritage continues to provide sufficient resources to renew people's consciences and lead them towards the common good, especially those called to sit in parliament.

"The Supreme Pontiff therefore hopes that constant collaboration between Italy and the Holy See, and between the State and the Church, will continue to support the progress of Italy, in particular families in their their primary educational and social role, and all citizens, especially in matters of civil responsibility".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Vatican Publishing House and Rizzoli Publications today announced that the book "L'Infanzia di Gesu", the third volume of Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI's trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, will be presented to the press on 20 November. The book is due to appear in English with the title "Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives".

The book will be presented at 11 a.m. in the Pius X Room (Via dell'Ospedale 1, Rome), and the speakers will include Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Maria Clara Bingemer, professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Fr. Giuseppe Costa S.D.B., director of the Vatican Publishing House, and Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, who will act as moderator.


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

- Fr. Darci Jose Nicioli, C.SS.R., rector of the National Sanctuary of Aparecida, Brazil, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Aparecida (area 1,300, population 198,000, Catholics 167,800, priests 102, permanent deacons 2, religious 363). The bishop-elect was born in Jacutinga, Brazil in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1986. He studied in Campinas, Sao Paulo and Rome, and has held a number of academic and pastoral posts.

- Msgr. Jose Avelino Bettencourt, nunciature councillor, as chief of protocol of the Secretariat of State. He was born in the Azores, Portugal, in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1993. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1999, and has served in the apostolic nunciature of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

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