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Friday, December 7, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience the members of the International Theological Commission following their plenary session. The Pope expressed his appreciation for the message prepared by the Commission regarding the Year of Faith, which "illustrates well the specific way in which theologians, in loyal service to the truth of faith, may share the Church's evangelising impulse".

The message revisits the themes developed more fully in the document "Theology today, Prospectives, Principles and Criteria", which embodies, in a sense, "the genetic code of Catholic theology, or rather, the principles which define her identity and as a consequence, guarantee her unity in the diversity of her manifestations. ... In a cultural context in which some have been tempted to deprive theology of its academic status on account of its intrinsic links to faith, or to disregard the confessional aspect of theology, at the risk of confusing it with religious sciences, your document provides a timely reminder that theology is in essence confessional and rational, and its presence within university institutions guarantees a broad and complete vision of human reason".

The Pope mentioned that among the criteria of Catholic theology, the document mentions the attention theologians should reserve for the 'sensus fidelium'. "Vatican Council II, confirming the specific and irreplaceable role of the Magisterium, emphasised that the People of God as a whole participate in Christ's prophetic role. ... This gift, the 'sensus fidei', constitutes in believers a sort of supernatural instinct which shares a vital connaturality with the very object of faith. ... It is a criterion for ascertaining whether or not a certain truth belongs to the living depository of the apostolic tradition. It also has a proactive value as the Holy Spirit never ceases to speak of the Church and to guide her towards the fullness of truth. Nowadays, however, it is particularly important to specify the criteria which permit the authentic 'sensus fidelium' to be distinguished from its imitations. This is not in fact a form of ecclesial public opinion, and it would be unthinkable to refer to it to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, since the 'sensus fidei' cannot truly develop in a believer other than to the extent to which he participates fully in the life of the Church, and it therefore necessitates responsible adhesion to her Magisterium".

"Nowadays, this supernatural sense of the faith of believers leads to a vigorous reaction against the prejudice according to which religions, and in particular monotheistic religions, are intrinsically predisposed to violence, especially on the pretext that they lay claim to a universal truth. Some maintain that only a 'polytheism of values' would guarantee  tolerance and civil peace by conforming to the spirit of a pluralistic democratic society. ... On the one hand, it is important to remember that faith in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, meets the rational demands of metaphysical reflection, which is not weakened, but rather strengthened and deepened by the Revelation of the mystery of the Triune God. On the other hand, it is necessary to emphasise the form that the definitive Revelation of the mystery of the Triune God takes in the life and death of Jesus Christ, led unto the cross like 'a lamb that is led to the slaughter'. The Lord offers a radical refusal of any form of hate or violence in favour of the absolute primacy of agape. While throughout history there have been or indeed there are forms of violence carried out in the name of God, these cannot be attributed to monotheism, but rather to historical causes, and in particular to human error. It is, rather, an oblivion to God that immerses human society in a form of relativism, which ineluctably generates violence. Once the possibility of referring to a form of objective truth is negated to all, dialogue becomes impossible and violence, whether declared or concealed, becomes the rule governing human relations. Without opening up to the transcendent, which enables us to find answers to our questions on the meaning of life and how to live in a moral fashion, man becomes incapable of acting with justice or committing himself to peace".

"If the rupture in man's relations with God brings with it a profound imbalance in relations within mankind itself, reconciliation with God brought about by Christ on the Cross, 'our peace', is the fundamental source of unity and fraternity", continued the Holy Father. "This also links to your discussion on the social doctrine of the Church within the doctrine of the faith as a whole. It confirms that social doctrine is not an extrinsic addition but, without neglecting the contribution of a healthy social philosophy, draws its basic principles from the same source as faith. This doctrine renders effective, in the great variety of social situations, the new commandment that the Lord Jesus gave to us: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another'".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Benedict XVI has today sent a letter of condolence to the Metropolitan Spyridon of Heliopolis for the death of His Beatitude Archbishop Ignatius Hazim IV, Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and all the East, who died on 5 December at the age of 92.

In the text, the Holy Father observes that "during his long life of service to the Gospel, the deceased patriarch offered luminous testimony to faith and charity, working with dedication for the spiritual elevation of the flock entrusted to him and for the noble cause of reconciliation and peace among men.

"I render thanks to God for the positive and effective contribution the late Patriarch Ignatius made to the process of conciliation between our two Churches. Let his memory invite us to continue on the path of dialogue and the search for full communion in Christ!" concluded the Pope.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Pope attended the first sermon of Advent delivered by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, on the theme: "A year of the Lord's favour".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the twenty-ninth meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which took place in Dublin, Ireland on 6 and 7 December.

The archbishop mentioned that "among the fundamental freedoms, the right to freedom of religion figures prominently for the Holy See. The OSCE has always emphasised the positive contributions of religious communities to society. In this sense, the activity of the OSCE has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose one’s religion".

"In fact, the rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature", he continued. "The full guarantee of religious freedom cannot be limited only to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order".

"With the increase of religious intolerance throughout the world, it is well documented that Christians are among those most discriminated against, even within the OSCE region. In spite of the commitments undertaken by participating States in the area of religious freedom, in some countries intolerant and even discriminatory laws, decisions and behaviour, either by action or omission ... deny this freedom", he added.


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

- Georgios Papadopoulos, the new ambassador of Greece to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- Cesar Castillo Ramirez, ambassador of Peru, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.


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

- Msgr. Georg Gänswein as prefect of the Pontifical House, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Waldshutt, Germany in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He has served in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he held the role of personal secretary to the prefect. He has served as personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI since his election to the pontificate.

- Fr. Peter Ebere Okpaleke of the clergy of Awka, Nigeria, as bishop of Ahiara (area 425, population 620,000, Catholics 478,000, priests 127, religious 113), Nigeria. The bishop-elect was born in Amesi, Nigeria in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1992. He undertook higher studies in Canon Law at the Holy Cross Pontifical University in Rome, and has held a number of pastoral roles. He is currently a judge at the inter-diocesan tribunal of Onitsha.

- Fr. Adelio Dell'Oro, of the clergy of the archdiocese of Milan, Italy, as apostolic administrator of Atyrau (area 727,600, population 2,181,000, Catholics 2,000, priests 17, religious 14), Kazakhstan, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Milan, Italy in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1972. From 1997 to 2007 he was the spiritual director of the interdiocesan seminary of Karaganda in Kazakhstan and director of Caritas Kazakhstan. From 2007 to 2009 he fulfilled a pastoral role in the archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana and taught pastoral theology at the major seminary of Karaganda. He is currently pro-rector of the Collegio Guastalla, Monza, and assistant to the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation for the Archdiocese of Milan.

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Health in Vailankanni, India, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), due to take place from 9 to 11 February 2013.

- Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the twenty-first World Day of the Sick, due to take place at the Marian sanctuary of Altotting, Germany on 11 February 2013.

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