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Monday, January 21, 2013


Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, the Pope was presented with two lambs that had been blessed earlier in the morning for today's feast of St. Agnes. The blessing took place in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana which bears the saint's name and where she is buried. The lamb's wool will be used to make the palliums that will be bestowed on the new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

The pallium, a white woollen band embroidered with six black silk crosses, is a sign of honour and liturgical jurisdiction that is worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops in their churches and those of their provinces. The Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome raise the lambs, the symbolic animal of St. Agnes who was martyred in Rome around the year 305. The sisters of St. Cecilia will make the palliums from the newly-shorn wool of the lambs.


Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) – Next Saturday, 2 February, at 5:30pm in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI will celebrate Holy Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, marking the World Day for Consecrated Life.

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, will concelebrate with the Holy Father, along with the sub-secretary of that dicastery and all those who have been invited by the Congregation. Members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are especially invited to participate in the Mass.


Vatican City, 20 January 2013 (VIS) – Jesus' first miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, was the Pope's subject of reflection before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square this afternoon.

The Holy Father recalled that, at a wedding that Jesus and Mary had been invited to, there was not enough wine for the guests. Mary informed her son of the situation but he answered her that his hour had not yet come. In the end, however, he agrees to his mother's request and, after making the servers fill six jars with water, transformed it into the best wine of the banquet. "With this sign Jesus publicly reveals his glory, inspiring the faith of his disciples … and revealing himself as the messianic Bridegroom, come to establish the new and everlasting covenant with his people". In this story, "the wine is a symbol of joy and love, but it also alludes to the blood that Jesus will shed in the end, to seal his nuptial pact with humanity."

"The Church," Benedict XVI continued, "is the bride of Christ, made holy and beautiful through his grace. Nevertheless, this bride, formed by human beings, is always in need of purification. One of the most serious sins that disfigure the face of the Church is the one against her visible unity, particularly the historical divisions that have separated Christians and that still have not been overcome. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is taking place in these days, a very welcome time for believers and communities, which awakens the desire for and spiritual commitment to achieving full communion."

The theme of this year's Week is "What does the Lord require of us?". It was proposed by some Christian communities in India who "invite us to walk with decision toward the visible union between all Christians and to overcome, as brothers and sisters in Christ, all kinds of unjust discrimination."

"To the prayer for unity among Christians," the pontiff concluded, "I would like to add once more, a prayer for peace so that in, all the various ongoing conflicts, the slaughter of unarmed civilians might stop, that there may be an end to all violence, and that the value of dialogue and negotiation may be found."


Vatican City, 19 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum including the council's president, Cardinal Robert Sarah. The theme of this year's meeting is “Charity, Christian Anthropology, and Global Ethics". Following are ample excerpts from the address given by the Holy Father.

"All of Christian ethics receives its meaning from faith as an 'encounter' with Christ's love, which offers a new horizon and a decisive orientation to life. … Trusting obedience to the Gospel gives charity its typically Christian expression and constitutes its principle of discernment. Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, should be guided by the principles of the faith in which we can abide by 'God's point of view', by His plan for us. This new view of the world and of humanity that faith offers provides the proper criteria for evaluating charitable expressions in the current situation."

"In every age that humanity did not seek God's plan it became the victim of cultural temptations that wound up enslaving it. In recent centuries, the ideologies that celebrated a cult of nationality, of race, or of social class have proven to be idolatries. The same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has resulted in crises, inequality, and poverty. More and more today, we share a common feeling regarding the inalienable dignity of every human being and the reciprocal and interdependent responsibility toward one another and therefore to the benefit of true civilization, a civilization of love."

"On the other hand, unfortunately, our time knows shadows that obscure God's plan. I'm referring particularly to that tragic anthropological reduction that reproposes an ancient hedonistic materialism, to which, however, is added a 'technological Promethanism'. From the union between a materialistic view of humanity and the great development in technology emerges an anthropology that is atheistic at heart. It presupposes that human beings are reduced to autonomous functions: the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization. All of this disregards God, disregards our properly spiritual dimension and our more-than-earthly horizon."

"From the perspective of a humanity deprived of its soul and therefore deprived of a personal relationship with the Creator, what is technologically possible becomes morally licit, every experiment is acceptable, every population policy is permitted, every manipulation is legitimized. The most dangerous pitfall of this line of thought is, in fact, humanity's absolutization: human beings want to be 'ab-solutus', released from every tie and every natural constitution."

Faith and healthy Christian discernment lead us, therefore, to pay prophetic attention to this ethical problematic and to the mentality underlying it. The proper collaboration with international bodies in the areas of human development and promotion shouldn’t close our eyes to these serious ideologies. The pastors of the Church … have the duty of warning faithful Catholics, as well as every person of good will and right reason, against these tendencies.”

It is, in fact, a negative tendency for humanity, even if disguised with good intentions, as a teaching of alleged progress, or alleged rights, or an alleged humanism. In the face of this anthropological reduction, what duty falls to each Christian, and particularly to you, who are engaged in charitable activity and thus have a direct relationship with many other social actors? Certainly we must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology.”

Positively, however, the Church has always been committed to promoting humanity according to God’s plan, in its full dignity, in respect of its both vertical and horizontal dimension. This is also what ecclesial organizations work to develop. The Christian vision of humanity, in fact, is a great ‘yes’ to the dignity of the person, who is called to an intimate communion with God, a filial, humble, and confident communion. The human being is neither an isolated individual nor an anonymous element of a collective but rather a singular and unique person, intrinsically ordered to relationship and socialness. The Church, therefore, reaffirms its great ‘yes’ to the dignity and beauty of marriage as the expression of faithful and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman, and its ‘no’ to philosophies such as gender philosophies is based on the fact that the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator.”

"Faced with these critical challenges, we know that the answer is the encounter with Christ. In Him, human beings can fully realize their personal good and the common good."


Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a message to the new Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, in which he writes that his election to the patriarchal throne is "an important event for the entire Church". In the same letter he grants the "Ecclesiastica Communio", "in conformity with the custom and the desire of the Catholic Church".

"I am sure," continues the pontiff, "that, with the power of Christ, victor over evil and death by His resurrection, and with the cooperation of the fathers of your patriarchal synod, in communion with the college of bishops, you will have the courage to guide the Coptic Church. … May the Lord help you in your ministry as 'Father and Head', to proclaim the Word of God, so that it may be lived and celebrated with piety according to the ancient spiritual and liturgical traditions of the Coptic Church and may all the faithful find comfort in the paternal care of their new patriarch."


Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and

six prelates from the Calabria region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari of Cosenza-Bisignano,
- Archbishop Domenico Graziani of Crotone-Santa Severina,
- Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone, S.d.P., of Catanzaro-Squillace,
- Bishop Luigi Antonio Cantafora of Lamezia Terme,
- Bishop Leonardo Antonio Paolo Bonanno of San Marco Argentano-Scalea, and
- Bishop Donato Oliverio of Lungro of the Italo-Albanians of continental Italy.

On Saturday, 19 January, the Holy Father received Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in audience.


Vatican City, 19 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- elevated the apostolic exarchate for Ukrainian faithful of the Byzantine rite resident in France, to the rank of eparchy with the title "Saint Wladimir-Le-Grand de Paris des Byzantins-Ukrainiens". He appointed Bishop Borys Andrij Gudziak, previously apostolic exarch of France (Ukrainian) and titular of Carcabia, as first bishop of the new eparchy. Bishop Gudziak was born in 1960 in Syracuse, New York, USA, was ordained to the priesthood in 1998, and received episcopal ordination in 2012.

- appointed Msgr. Piotr Sawczuk as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Siedlce (area 11,440, population 736,800, Catholics 725,800, priests 666, religious 385), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Puczyce, Poland and was ordained a priest in 1987. Bishop-elect Sawczuk, previously vicar general and chancellor of the curia of that same diocese, was assigned the titular see of Ottana.

- appointed Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan as bishop of Mouila (area 59,035, population 124,000, Catholics 48,500, priests 16, religious 26), Gabon. Bishop Madega Lebouakehan was born in 1960 in Mbigou, Gabon, was ordained to the priesthood in 1991, and received episcopal ordination in 2000. Previously bishop of Port-Gentil, Gabon since 2003, Bishop Madega Lebouakehan was also named apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of that diocese. He succeeds Bishop Dominique Bonnet, C.S.Sp., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Moiula the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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