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Tuesday, September 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations in New York, yesterday participated in the general debate of the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly.

  "By its nature and structure, the United Nations normally creates neither the events nor the trends, but rather, serves as a sounding board where events and trends are submitted for debate and a coherent, consensual and timely response", said the archbishop in his English-language remarks.

  "This year has been dominated by a number of challenges and crises: natural and man-made calamities, staggering economies, financial turmoil and fuel prices, the impact of climate change, local wars and tensions. ... One of the clear facts recognised by all is that every crisis presents a mixture of natural factors and elements of human responsibility. However, these are all too often compounded by tardy response, failures or reluctance of leaders to exercise their responsibility to protect their populations.

  "When speaking within these walls of the responsibility to protect", the prelate added, "the common understanding of the term is found in the 2005 Outcome Document, which refers to the responsibility of the international community to intervene in situations where individual governments are not able or willing to assure the protection of their own citizens.

  "In the past, the language of 'protection' was too often a pretext for expansion and aggression. In spite of the many advancements in international law, this same understanding and practice tragically continues today.

  "However, during the past year", the archbishop continued, "there has been growing consensus and greater inclusion of this expression as a vital component of responsible leadership. The responsibility to protect has been invoked by some as an essential aspect of the exercise of sovereignty at the national and international levels, while others have re-launched the concept of the exercise of responsible sovereignty".

  "The 'we the peoples' who formed the United Nations conceived the responsibility to protect to serve as the core basis for the United Nations", the archbishop concluded. "The founding leaders believed that the responsibility to protect would consist not primarily in the use of force to restore peace and human rights, but above all, in States coming together to detect and denounce the early symptoms of every kind of crises and mobilise the attention of governments, civil society and public opinion to find the causes and offer solutions".
DELSS/PROTECTION/U.N.:MIGLIORE                VIS 20080930 (410)


VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2008 (VIS) - "New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship" is the theme chosen by the Pope for his Message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications, due to be published on 24 January 2009, Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists.

  The announcement was made yesterday 29 September, Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

  In Archbishop Celli's words, with his message for the Day of Social Communications the Holy Father "is presenting us with a true work plan, ... a compendium of commitments and responsibilities that ... those involved in the field of communications are personally called to shoulder, at a time so deeply marked by the development of new media technologies which, in effect, are creating a new environment, a new culture.

  "It is clear that the Pope has a certain confidence in the possibilities the communications media can offer; the media can be of great help in favouring a climate of dialogue and trust".

  The president of the pontifical council went on to point out that "highlighting the fact that new technologies must be accompanied by new relationships represents a profound appraisal of the interaction upon which communication exists and develops. The modernisation of instruments does not simply mean a step forwards in technical terms, but creates new conditions and possibilities for mankind to use and apply this resource for the common good, placing it at the foundation of a widespread cultural growth".

  Archbishop Celli also announced that in March 2009 bishops with responsibility for communication are due to attend a seminar organised in collaboration with experts in media and communication "in order to devise a more precise and up-to-date form of pastoral care for the social communications media".

  The World Day of Social Communications will be celebrated in almost all countries on Sunday 31 May 2009.
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Monday, September 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kazakhstan, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Tomash Peta of Maria Santissima in Astana.

    - Archbishop-Bishop Jan Pawel Lenga M.I.C. of Karaganda, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider O.R.C.

    - Bishop Henry Theophilus Howaniec O.F.M. of Santissima Trinita in Almaty.

    - Bishop Janusz Kaleta, apostolic administrator of Atyrau.

  On Saturday 27 September, he received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI made his farewells to Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano (the diocese in which Castelgandolfo is located), local religious communities, the civil authorities and the personnel in charge of security during his stay in the summer residence.

  Recalling that today marks the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the Holy Father said: "let us trustingly invoke their help, and the protection of the Guardian Angels, whose feast we will celebrate in a few day's time, on 2 October".

  "The invisible presence of these blessed spirits", he said, "brings us great help and consolation: they walk at our side and protect us in all circumstances, they defend us from danger, and to them we can turn at any moment. Many saints established bonds of real friendship with the angels, and numerous episodes testify to their assistance on particular occasions. Angels are sent by God 'to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation' as the Letter to the Hebrews says, hence they are a real help to us on the pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland".

  This afternoon, the Pope is due to bid farewell to the staff of the Pontifical Villas at Castelgandolfo, before returning to the Vatican tomorrow.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope announced that he will return to the Vatican on 30 September, thus concluding his period of summer residence in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo.

  "I thank the Lord", said Benedict XVI, "for all the gifts He has given me during this time. I am thinking in particular of World Youth Day in Sydney, of the period of rest I spent in Bressanone, of the visit to Sardinia and of the apostolic trip to Paris and Lourdes.

  "I am also thinking", he added, "of the chance I have had to stay in this house where I am able to relax and work during the hottest months. I send a particular greeting to the community of Castelgandolfo with a heartfelt thank-you to the bishop, the mayor and the forces of law and order".

  The Holy Father also addressed some words to Polish pilgrims, and in particular to faithful gathered in the city of Bialystok, Poland, for the beatification of Servant of God Michael Sopocko, "confessor and spiritual father of St. Faustina Kowalska.

  "At his suggestion, the saint described her mystical experiences and the apparitions of Merciful Jesus in her famous 'Diary'. Thanks also to his efforts, the image of 'Jesus, in You I trust' was painted and made known throughout the world".

  Fr. Sopocko was "a zealous pastor, educator and propagator of the cult of Divine Mercy", said the Pope, going on to note that "in the house of the Father my beloved predecessor John Paul II will joy at his beatification. He it was who entrusted the world to Divine Mercy and hence I repeat his words: 'May God rich in Mercy bless you all!'"
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VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo in order to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered below.

  The Pope commented upon the Gospel reading of the two sons sent to work in their father's vineyard: one refuses but then changes his mind and goes, the other agrees to go but then fails to do so. "With this parable", the Holy Father said, "Jesus underlines His predilection for converted sinners, and teaches us that we need humility to welcome the gift of salvation".

  "Humility", he went on, "may be considered the spiritual legacy" of John Paul I, who died thirty years ago and whose episcopal motto "was the same as that of St. Charles Borromeo, 'Humilitas'. A single word that encapsulates the essential core of Christian life and indicates the indispensable virtue for people who are called to a service of authority within the Church".

  "Thanks to this virtue, 33 days were enough for Pope John Paul I to enter into peoples' hearts. In his discourses he used examples taken from real life, from his family memories and from popular wisdom. His simplicity was the vehicle for a solid and rich teaching which - thanks to the gift of an exceptional memory and a vast culture - he supplemented with many quotes from ecclesiastical and lay writers. He was a peerless catechist, following the footsteps of St. Pius X, his compatriot and predecessor first in the cathedra of St. Mark and then in that of St. Peter".

  Remarking upon one of the four general audiences celebrated by John Paul I, Benedict XVI recalled how the Pontiff had used the phrase: "We must feel small before God", and had then added: "I am not ashamed to feel like a child before its mother: we believe our mothers, I believe in the Lord and what He revealed to me".

  "These words", Pope Benedict concluded, "reveal the depth of his faith. As we thank the Lord for having given him to the Church and the world, we treasure his example, undertaking to cultivate the humility that was his and that made him capable of speaking to everyone, especially the smallest and those 'furthest away'".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo today, for the occasion of World Tourism Day 2008, Benedict XVI received 300 participants in a meeting promoted by the Centre for Youth Tourism and by the International Office for Social Tourism. They were accompanied by Cardinal Renato Martino and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

  Referring to the theme of the Day this year - "Tourism: Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change" - the Pope pointed out that humanity has the duty to protect the resources of creation and "to commit itself against the indiscriminate use of the goods of the earth", because "without adequate ethical and moral limits, human behaviour can become a threat and a challenge.

  "Experience shows that the responsible administration of creation is part, or should be part, of a healthy and sustainable tourist economy", Pope Benedict added, going on to mention John Paul II's 1991 Encyclical "Centesimus Annus" in which the late Pontiff "criticised the excessive and arbitrary consumption of resources, recalling that man is God's helper in the work of creation and cannot take His place. ... 'Humanity today must be conscious of its duties and obligations towards future generations'".

  Benedict XVI went on: "It is therefore necessary, especially in the field of tourism which depends so heavily on nature, that everyone should seek a well-balanced management of our habitat, in what is our common home. ... Environmental degradation can be stopped only by spreading an appropriate culture which includes more sober lifestyles. ... Hence the importance of educating people to an 'ethic of responsibility'".

  The Holy Father told his audience that the Church shared their commitment "to what is known as social tourism, which promotes the participation of the weaker sectors of society and thus can be an important tool in the fight against poverty, ... creating work, protecting resources and promoting equality". Social tourism "represents a reason for hope in a world where differences between those who have everything and those who suffer hunger, want and drought have become more accentuated".

  Finally, the Pope called on young people "to support and practice ways of behaviour that help to appreciate and defend nature from a correct ecological perspective, as I highlighted on a number of occasions during World Youth Day in Sydney in July".
AC/WORLD TOURISM DAY/...                    VIS 20080929 (410)


VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of Pavel Vosalik, the new ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Holy See.

  In his English-language address the Holy Father expressed his appreciation for the ambassador's mention in his speech of "the influence of Christianity on the rich cultural heritage of your nation, and particularly the role that the Gospel played in bringing hope to the Czech people in times of oppression".

  "Your nation", he said, "bolstered by the sense of solidarity that enabled her to emerge courageously from the collapse of totalitarianism, also desires to contribute to the welfare of the human family by enhancing international co-operation in the struggle against violence, hunger, poverty and other social ills". In this context he mentioned the forthcoming Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union, noting how it will enable the country "to exercise strong leadership in the shared endeavour of combining unity and diversity, national sovereignty and joint activity, and economic progress and social justice across the continent.

  "The Church", the Pope added, "is well aware of the many challenges facing Europe precisely at a time when its nations aspire to build a more stable international community for future generations. To move forward, its leaders are called to recognise that human happiness and well-being cannot be achieved through structures alone. ... The realisation of a genuine culture worthy of man's noble vocation requires the harmonious co-operation of families, ecclesial communities, schools, businesses, community organisations and governmental institutions", entities which are "intended for the service of all".

  "For this reason, all of society benefits when the Church is afforded the right to exercise stewardship over the material and spiritual goods required for her ministry", said Benedict XVI, expressing the hope that "outstanding issues regarding ecclesiastical property" will be resolved and that there be "a genuine recognition of the Church's ability to contribute to the welfare of the Republic. In particular", he went on, "I hope that such considerations will be kept in clear view while a solution is sought concerning the future of the cathedral in Prague, which stands as a living witness to the rich cultural and religious heritage of your land, and testifies to the harmonious coexistence of Church and State".

  The Holy Father continued his address: "By its very nature, the Gospel urges people of faith to offer themselves in loving service to their brothers and sisters without distinction and without counting the cost". And he emphasised "the enormous formative potential" young people gain from participating in charitable initiatives, recalling "the many Czech citizens already serving abroad in long-term development and aid projects under the auspices of Caritas and other humanitarian organisations".

  In closing his remarks, the Holy Father expressed his condolences to the ambassador for the death of the Czech Republic representative to Pakistan in a recent terrorist attack in Islamabad, in which more than 50 people lost their lives. "I pray daily", he said, "for an end to such acts of aggression, and I encourage all those engaged in diplomatic service to dedicate themselves ever more keenly to facilitating peace and ensuring security throughout the world".

Friday, September 26, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Three prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Carlos Maria Collazzi Irazabal S.D.B. of Mercedes.

    - Bishop Luis del Castillo Estrada S.J. of Melo, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Roberto Reinaldo Caceres Gonzalez.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a speech delivered on 25 September by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, before the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly which is considering the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  Speaking English, Archbishop Migliore highlighted how the MDGs "will be achieved if their attainment becomes a priority for all States". To this end, "we need to foment a new culture of human relations marked by a fraternal vision of the world, a culture based upon the moral imperative of recognising the unity of humankind and the practical imperative of giving a contribution to peace and the well-being of all.

  "The money and resources that the least developed countries need in terms of direct aid, financial assistance and trade advantages are meagre compared to the world-wide military expenses or the total expenses of non-primary necessities of populations in more developed countries", he added.

  "In these days we are witnessing a debate on an economic rescue aimed at resolving a crisis that risks disrupting the economy of the most developed countries and leaving thousands and thousands of families without work. This rescue of enormous proportions, which amounts to many times the whole of international aid, cannot but raise a pressing question. How are we able to find funds to save a broken financial system yet remain unable to find the resources necessary to invest in the development of all regions of the world, beginning with the most destitute?

  "For this reason", he concluded, "the globalisation of solidarity through the prompt achievement of the MDGs established by the Millennium Declaration is a crucial moral obligation of the international community".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning in Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father received 300 participants in an international meeting of the "Retrouvaille" Association, which has the aim of helping married couples in crisis.

  The Pope recalled how the group came into being in Canada in 1977, thanks to the efforts of Canadian husband and wife, Guy and Jeannine Beland, "to help couples in serious crisis to face their problems with a specific programme aimed at rebuilding their relationship, not as an alternative to psychological therapies but following a different and complementary route.

  "You are not professionals", he added, "you are married people who in many cases have experienced the same difficulties yourselves, and you have overcome them with the grace of God and the support of Retrouvaille, experiencing in your turn the desire and joy of placing your experience at the service of others. Among you are a number of priests who accompany the married people on their journey".

  A serious matrimonial crisis, said Pope Benedict, "has two faces. On the one hand, and especially in its most acute and painful phase, it appears to be a failure; ... this is the negative face. But there is another face, one we are often unaware of but that God sees. In fact, as nature shows us, each crisis is a passage to a new phase of life. ... At the moment of break-up", he told his audience, "you offer couples ... a positive reference to which to entrust themselves in their desperation". In this way "your meetings offer a 'handhold' so as not to lose the way altogether and gradually to climb back up the slope".

  Recalling the evangelical episode of the wedding at Cana, the Holy Father indicated that the "good wine" held back until the end "is a symbol of salvation, of the new nuptial alliance that Jesus came to seal with humankind". In this context he affirmed that "when married couples in difficulties or - as your experience shows - already separated, entrust themselves to Mary and turn to Him Who made them 'a single flesh', they can be certain that the crisis will - with the help of the Lord - become a way to grow, and that love will be purified, matured and reinforced".

  "Yours is a 'counter-current' service", he told the members of the association. "Today, in fact, when a couple goes into crisis many people are to be found who advise them to separate. Divorce is even easily proposed to people married in the name of the Lord, forgetting that man cannot separate what God has brought together".

  "In order to achieve your mission", the Pope concluded, "you need to nourish your spiritual life continually, to put love into what you do so that contact with difficult situations does not cause your hope to run dry or be reduced to a mere formula".


VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo this morning, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  "A visit to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul", the Pope told them, "provides a good opportunity to delve more deeply into the significance of the ministry of the successors to the Apostles". It is "an opportunity to reinforce the bonds of effective and affective unity among the college of bishops, which must demonstrate ... the ideal ... of the ecclesial community since its origins: that of 'oneness of heart and mind', a visible example to promote a spirit of fraternity and harmony among your faithful, and in modern society so often dominated by individualism and rivalries".

  Such communion also appears, the Holy Father noted, in the Uruguayan bishops' implementation of pastoral guidelines inspired in Jesus' meeting with the disciples in Emmaus, when "the Master, who accompanied and conversed with His companions, explained the Scriptures to them". Hence, "promoting knowledge of and meditation upon Sacred Scripture, explaining it faithfully in preaching and catechesis, or teaching it in schools, is vital in order to for people to live their Christian vocation with greater awareness, firmness and security".

  "The Word of God is also the source and ... content of your ministry", said the Pope, "even more necessary at a time in which many voices seek to silence God in personal and social life, leading mankind along paths that undermine true hope and disregard the firm truth in which the human heart can find rest".

  "Teach then", he told the bishops "the faith of the Church in its entirety, with the courage and conviction of those who live from it and for it, not shrinking from an explicit proclamation of the moral values of Catholic doctrine, which are at times the subject of debate in political and cultural circles and in the communications media, such as those referring to the family, to sexuality and to life ... from conception to natural end".

  Benedict XVI reminded the prelates of their reliance on "the priceless collaboration of priests, who should be constantly encouraged so that, without bowing before the dominant mentality of the world, they remain true disciples and missionaries of Christ, carrying His message of salvation ... to everyone who thirsts for words learnt of the Spirit rather than purely human knowledge. ...In this way they will bear faithful witness of what they preach, and help their brothers and sisters to flee a purely superficial religiosity and ... learn from Christ to love 'in justice and sanctity of life'".

  In conclusion, the Pope encouraged the Uruguayan bishops not to give way to discouragement "in so many situations of religious indifference or apathy", and to continue to be bearers of "the hope that does not disappoint" and "of Christ's love for the poor and needy. ... In difficult situations, which also affect the people of Uruguay, the Church is called to show greatness of heart, solidarity, and the capacity for sacrifice of the family of the children of God towards brothers and sisters in difficulty".
AL/.../URUGUAY                            VIS 20080926 (540)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father, in accordance with article 30 para. 1 of the Statute of the Italian Episcopal Conference, appointed Bishop Mariano Crociata of Noto, Italy, as secretary general of that conference for a five-year period.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Ramiro Moliner Ingles, apostolic nuncio to Albania.

 - Five prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Nicolas Contugno Fanizzi S.D.B. of Montevideo.

    - Bishop Arturo Eduardo Fajardo Bustamante of San Jose de Mayo.

    - Bishop Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira of Minas.

    - Bishop Martin Pablo Perez Scremini of Florida, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Raul Horacio Scarrone Carrero.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P. and Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, respectively prefect, secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presented a document entitled: "Reform of the Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences".

  The text, which has been published in English, French, Spanish and Italian, is made up of three sections: Structure of Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (HIRS), Process of Erecting an HIRS, and Final Norms.

  Study in HIRS, the document reads "has three primary goals. Its first aim is the promotion of the religious formation of the laity and of those in consecrated life in order that they might better participate in the task of evangelisation of the secular world in which they live. This role emphasises also the assumption of professional duties in ecclesial life and in the installation of a Christian sensibility in society. Its second goal is to prepare candidates for the many diverse lay ministries and services to the Church. And its third goal is to prepare teachers of religion at all school levels below the university level".

  "All the teachers, whatever their position, should always be distinguished by the suitability of their knowledge of their fields, by an upright life, the integration of doctrine, the commitment to their work, such that they might more effectively contribute to the mission of the Institute. The teaching should be animated by a commitment to Divine Revelation, by fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and by respect for scientific truth".

  On the subject of students, the documents states that "the HIRS should be open to all faithful Catholics - lay and religious - marked by their moral conduct and the prior studies they may have done in this area, who desire to receive a strong preparation in Religious Sciences".

  The new Instruction, which substitutes a preceding norm published by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1987, has the aim, said Cardinal Grocholewski quoting from the document, "of regularising the varied HIRS that exist in the universal Church in order to ensure appropriate academic and scientific levels, in fidelity to the Magisterium, and of responding to the requests of local Churches that desire to erect new Institutes".

  The cardinal highlighted how the principal novelties concern "the period of study in HIRS, which will now last for a period of five years, structured into two cycles: an initial three-year cycle at the end of which candidates receive a Baccalaureate in Religious Sciences, and a subsequent two-year cycle culminating in a Licence in Religious Sciences. The old norm", he explained, "made provision for a single period of study lasting four years".

  Other novelties include "the extension to these Institutes of the names of academic degrees utilised in Ecclesiastical Faculties (Baccalaureate and License, and not 'Magisterium'), and the fact that for the first time the necessary number of permanent teaching staff has been established (there must be at least five or, if the Institute offers only the first cycle of studies, at least four). Other innovations", the cardinal went on, include "the need for a sufficient number of students in each Institute (in ordinary circumstances no fewer than 75), the fact that permanent staff members of HIRS may not be permanent staff members of other academic institutions, and the more precise definition of the roles and tasks of academic authorities, both those shared with Theological Faculties (chancellor, president or dean, and the council of the Faculty), and those specific to the HIRS (moderator, director and council of the Institute)".

  In his remarks, Archbishop Brugues explained that the document being presented this morning "follows in the wake of one of the great intuitions of Vatican Council II: the importance of the laity". In order for lay people to perform their specific role, from "catechesis and teaching in Catholic schools and universities", to "leadership roles in Catholic action movements and Christian-inspired communications media, ... they must receive due formation. They have the right to ask for it and the Church has the duty to offer it to them".

  To this end, the archbishop went on, "student priests will receive the formation dispensed by Ecclesiastical Faculties, while lay people are invited to turn to the Higher Institutes of Religious Studies". These, he explained, "are two separate itineraries, differentiated above all by the kind of teaching and the stages of formation". It is hoped that the programme devised for lay people will "provide them with a new opportunity to participate in a more profound study of the truth, and create a fusion between the faith of the Church - clearly universal in its scope - and the particular cultures of the local Churches", while always seeking "a formation founded on excellence".

  The presentation was concluded by Msgr. Zani who, after examining the situation of Higher Institutes of Religious Studies in the world, noted that "we cannot expect to reduce within a single rigid model of formation for lay people, the plurality and diversity of the formative institutions that exist today, many of which are already recognised by the Holy See".

  "In any case it is necessary that when academic institutes that award ecclesiastical degrees are created, ... two fundamental criteria indicated in the Vatican Council II Declaration 'Gravissimum educationis' be respected: ... the appropriate distribution of higher institutes in the various parts of the world and the guarantee of their academic standards and exalted cultural goals".
CIC/HIRS/GROCHOLEWSKI                    VIS 20080925 (920)


VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received participants in a seminar entitled: "Beyond the Educational Emergency. Catholic schools at the service of young people". The seminar has been promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference's Study Centre for Catholic Schools to mark the tenth anniversary of its foundation.

  Highlighting the importance of the mission of Catholic schools, the Pope quoted from a document of the Italian Episcopal Conference entitled "Catholic Schools in Italy Today", where it is written that "Catholic schools are an expression of the right of all citizens to freedom of education, and of their corresponding duty of solidarity in the construction of civil coexistence".

  "In order to be selected and appreciated, Catholic schools must be understood in their educational aims", said the Holy Father. To this end a "mature awareness" is necessary, "not only of their ecclesial identity and cultural programme, but also of their civil importance which should be considered not as a defence of special interests but as a precious contribution to creating the common good of all Italian society".

  Thanks to the collaboration of various Italian educational institutions and organisations, noted Benedict XVI, over these ten years the Study Centre for Catholic Schools has "been able to undertake a careful monitoring of the situation of Catholic schools in Italy, dedicating particular attention to the question of parity and reform. ... In this context, it has been noted that attendance in Catholic schools in some regions of Italy has grown with respect to the preceding decade, although serious - and sometimes even critical - situations persist.

  "It is", the Holy Father added in conclusion, "precisely in the context of the renewal wished for by all people who have the good of the young and the country to heart that we must favour real equality between State schools and private schools, so as to grant parents appropriate liberty of choice on the schools their children attend".
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2008 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope greeted a group of young people, most of the from the Caucasus region, members of the "Rondine-Citadella della Pace" Association.

  "It is my hope that your meeting may contribute to affirming a culture of peaceful coexistence among peoples and to promoting understanding and reconciliation", the Pope told them.

  The Citadella della Pace international student residence of Rondine, a village near the Italian city of Arezzo, is a place that seeks to promote dialogue and reconciliation among peoples. Since 1997, it has welcomed young people from different countries and religions who have experienced or are experiencing war: the Caucasus region, Russia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Sierra Leone.
AG/PEACE/CITADELLA ASSOCIATION                VIS 20080924 (130)


VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Francois-Marie Lethel O.C.D., as prelate secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

 - Msgr. Rafael Biernaski, official of the Congregation for Bishops, as bureau chief at the same congregation.

 - As consultors of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff: Msgr. Nicola Bux, professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia, Italy; Fr. Mauro Gagliardi, professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum", Rome; Fr. Juan Jose Silvestre Valor, professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome; Fr. Uwe Michael Lang C.O., official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Fr. Paul C. F. Gunter O.S.B., professor at the St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, Rome.
NA/.../...                                VIS 20080924 (130)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced in a communique made public today that at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 5 October, in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father will concelebrate the Eucharist with the Synod Fathers for the opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will have as its theme: "Verbum Domini in vita et missione Ecclesiae".
OCL/OPENING SYNOD/...                        VIS 20080923 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See will once again participate in the celebration of European Heritage Days, an initiative of the Council of Europe in which more than 40 countries on the continent take part. The celebrations this year will take place on Sunday 28 September and have as their theme: "European Heritage for Inter-cultural Dialogue".

  A communique made public today explains that the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology are all collaborating in the event.

  On 28 September visitors will be able enter to the Vatican Museums free of charge. Entrance to all catacombs in Rome that are normally open to the public will also be free.

  On the same day a photographic exhibition will be inaugurated at the San Callisto Catacombs on the Old Appian Way. The exhibition is entitled "Customs and Grave Goods of Rome in Late Antiquity: Christian, Pagan and Jewish tombs compared", and will remain open until 28 October.
.../EUROPEAN HERITAGE DAYS/...                VIS 20080923 (180)


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, head of the Holy See delegation to the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly, yesterday participated in a high-level meeting on the subject: "Africa's development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward".

  "The successes obtained in the consolidation of independence, in the overcoming of the ideological conflicts of the twentieth century, in the abolition of apartheid, and more recently in the strengthening of the African Union and of many other regional structures of co-operation are a sign of hope in the potential of Africa", said the archbishop speaking English. "It is now high time to allow and encourage an African sense of ownership in leading a sustained and sustainable developmental process that frees all the peoples of Africa from the scourge of extreme poverty".

  "The Holy See ... encourages the participants in this high-level meeting to continue efforts to adapt the development programs to the reality of Africa and achieve an authentic partnership, in which African countries are not simply a receiver of ideas and aid programmed from the outside, but a true agent of their own development".
DELSS/AFRICA/U.N.:MIGLIORE                    VIS 20080923 (210)

Monday, September 22, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Six prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Julio Cesar Bonino Bonino of Tacuarembo.

    - Bishop Orlando Romero Cabrera of Canelones, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Leopoldo Hermes Garin Bruzzone.

    - Bishop Pablo Jaime Galimberti di Vietri of Salto, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Heriberto Andres Bodeant Fernandez.

    - Bishop Rodolfo Pedro Wirz Kraemer of Maldonado - Punta del Este.

  On Saturday 20 September he received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president on the Italian Episcopal Conference.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20080922 (120)


VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Six prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Julio Cesar Bonino Bonino of Tacuarembo.

    - Bishop Orlando Romero Cabrera of Canelones, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Leopoldo Hermes Garin Bruzzone.

    - Bishop Pablo Jaime Galimberti di Vietri of Salto, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Heriberto Andres Bodeant Fernandez.

    - Bishop Rodolfo Pedro Wirz Kraemer of Maldonado - Punta del Este.

  On Saturday 20 September he received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president on the Italian Episcopal Conference.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20080922 (120)


VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received a group of recently-appointed bishops who are participating in a congress promoted by the Congregation for Bishops and by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

  Having recalled that this year is dedicated to St. Paul, the Pope indicated that "the example of the great Apostle calls us as bishops to grow daily in sanctity of life, so as to experience the same sentiments as were in Christ Jesus".

  "A bishop's primary spiritual and apostolic commitment must", the Pope explained, "be that of progressing on the way of evangelical perfection", above all by listening to the Word of God. "I exhort you to confide in the Word of God so as to become masters of faith and true educators of your faithful".

  With the approach of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, said the Holy Father, "I entrust you to the power of the Word of the Lord that you may be faithful to the promises you expressed before God and the Church on the day of your episcopal consecration, unrelenting in carrying out the ministry entrusted to you, faithful in safeguarding the deposit of faith pure and complete, firm in ecclesial communion with the entire order of bishops".

  "Progressing along the path of sanctity", he continued, "you will express that indispensable moral authority and prudent wisdom which are required of those placed at the head of the family of God. Today, such authority is more necessary than ever. Your ministry will be pastorally fruitful only if it is founded on the sanctity of your lives".

  Referring then to priests, the Pope called on the neo-bishops to help them "grow in dedication to Christ and in faithfulness to the priestly ministry. Seek to promote true priestly fraternity that may contribute to overcoming isolation and solitude, favouring mutual support. It is important for all priests to be aware of the paternal closeness and friendship of their bishop".

  "In order to construct the future of your particular Churches, encourage and guide the young", the Holy Father told the prelates. In this context he underlined how "priests and educators should know how to transmit to new generations, apart from enthusiasm for the gift of life, love for Jesus Christ and for the Church".

  The Holy Father concluded by asking the bishops to dedicate particular attention to seminarians, "with an awareness that the seminary is the heart of the diocese. Do not fail to present the young with the possibility of donating themselves fully to Christ in the priestly or religious life. Raise awareness among families, parishes and educational institutions, that they may help new generations to seek and discover God's plan for their lives".
AC/SANCTITY/NEW BISHOPS                    VIS 20080922 (470)


VATICAN CITY, 21 SEP 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus this morning, the Holy Father made a call in favour of Caribbean countries, particularly Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, as well as the U.S. state of Texas, which have all been struck by cyclones in recent weeks.

  "Once again", he said, "I would like to ensure all those dear people of a special mention in my prayers. I trust that aid may soon arrive in the most severely damaged areas. May it be the Lord's will that, at least in these circumstances, solidarity and fraternity prevail over all else".

  Benedict XVI then went on he recall how on 25 September in New York, within the context of the 63rd U.N. General Assembly, a high level meeting will be held to verify the achievement of the goals laid down in the Millennium Declaration, which was adopted at a summit of world leaders on 8 September 2000.

  The Holy Father renewed his invitation for everyone "courageously to take and apply the measures necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, ignorance and pandemics, which especially strike the most vulnerable. Such a commitment, though requiring particular sacrifices at this time of world economic difficulties, will not fail to produce important benefits, both for the development of nations which need external aid, and for the peace and wellbeing of the entire planet".
ANG/APPEALS/CARIBBEAN:U.N.                VIS 20080922 (240)


VATICAN CITY, 21 SEP 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, having returned from the nearby town of Albano where he celebrated Mass, Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered there.

  The Pope commented on the parable from the Gospel of St. Matthew which narrates how the lord of the vineyard called labourers to work for him at various times of the day, causing those who were hired first to complain that those hired last received the same pay for having worked fewer hours.

  After recalling how when elected to the pontifical throne he too had presented himself as "a worker in the vineyard of the Lord", Benedict XVI explained that the money mentioned in the parable "represents eternal life, a gift God reserves for everyone. Indeed, precisely those who are considered 'last', if they accept the gift, become 'first', while the 'first' may run the risk of becoming 'last'.

  "The first message of this parable lies in the fact that the owner of the vineyard cannot tolerate ... unemployment. He wants everyone to be employed in his vineyard and, in fact, being called is already a reward: being able to work in the vineyard of the Lord, placing oneself at His service, is of itself a priceless gift which repays any effort. But only those who love the Lord and His Kingdom can understand this; those who work only for pay will never realise the value of this inestimable treasure".

  The Apostle Matthew underwent this experience in person, the Pope explained, because as a publican, a tax-gatherer, he was considered "a public sinner, excluded from the 'vineyard of the Lord'". Yet when Jesus called him "he immediately became a disciple of Christ; from being 'last' he found himself 'first', thanks to the logic of God which - to our good fortune - is different from that of the world".

  "St. Paul, whose Jubilee Year we are currently celebrating, also experienced the joy of being called by the Lord to work in His vineyard", and he "understood that working for the Lord is in itself a recompense on this earth".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by affirming that the Virgin Mary "is the prefect branch of the Lord's vine. From her sprang the blessed fruit of divine love: Jesus, our Saviour".
ANG/VOCATION/...                            VIS 20080922 (410)


VATICAN CITY, 21 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated Mass and dedicated a new altar at the cathedral of San Pancrazio in Albano, a town near his summer residence of Castelgandolfo.

  In his homily Benedict XVI spoke of "the love of Christ, charity 'which never ends'", which is "the spiritual energy that unites all those who participate in the same sacrifice and who draw nourishment from the one Bread, broken for the salvation of the world.

  "Is it in fact possible", he asked, "to communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with each other? How then can we present ourselves at God's altar divided and distant from one another?"

  The Holy Father asked the faithful to ensure that the altar he was about to dedicate "be a constant invitation to love. To it you will always come", he said, "with your hearts ready to accept and to spread the love of Christ, to receive and to grant forgiveness".

  "Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist", the Pope reiterated, "may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive".

  Benedict XVI went on to explain that "each Eucharistic celebration anticipates Christ's triumph over sin and over the world. And, in the mystery, it demonstrates the splendour of the Church, 'spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb, whom Christ loved and for whom He delivered Himself up that He might sanctify her'".

  The Pope encouraged the members of the diocesan community of Albano "to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. What this means in concrete terms", he said, "is bearing witness with your lives to your faith in Christ and to the complete trust you place in Him. It also means cultivating ecclesial communion, which is above all a gift, a grace, the fruit of God's free and gratuitous love, in other words something that is divinely effective, ever present and operative in history, over and above any appearance to the contrary".

  After highlighting how "ecclesial communion is a task entrusted to everyone's sense of responsibility", Pope Benedict concluded by calling on people to experience communion "with collaboration and co-responsibility at all levels: among priests, consecrated persons and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your territory, and among the various lay groups".

  After the Mass, Benedict XVI greeted a number of benefactors and patrons of recent restoration work on the cathedral before returning by car to Castelgandolfo.


VATICAN CITY, 20 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to preside at the closing celebrations of the Jubilee Year of the Cistercian abbey of Waldsassen, Germany, due to be held on 23 November 2008, the 875th anniversary of its foundation.
NA/.../RODE                                VIS 20080922 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 20 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received a group of around 100 recently-appointed bishops who are participating in a training seminar promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

  "The congress in which you are participating", the Pope told them, "is taking place during the Pauline Year, which we are celebrating in the whole Church with the aim of gaining a deeper knowledge of St. Paul's missionary spirit and charismatic personality".

  "I am sure that the spirit of this 'teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth' ... will not fail to illuminate and enrich your pastoral and episcopal ministry", he said, recalling how "the expression 'teacher of the Gentiles' ... opens to the future, projecting the spirit of the Apostle towards all peoples and all generations".

  From St. Paul, the Holy Father explained, the bishops should learn "to look sympathetically upon the people to whom we are sent" and "to seek in Christ the light and grace to announce the Good News today".

  Going on then to refer to the situations the prelates will be called to confront, he noted how their dioceses "are mostly very large and not infrequently lacking roads and means of communication. ... Moreover your societies, like other places, are being hit by the increasingly-violent wind of ... religious indifference, secularisation and the relativisation of values. This creates an environment in which the weapon of preaching may appear - as happened to Paul in Athens - to lack the necessary strength.

  "In many regions", Pope Benedict added, "Catholics are a minority, sometimes a tiny minority. This compels you to deal with other much stronger religions that are not always welcoming towards you. Finally, there is no lack of situations in which, as pastors, you must defend your faithful in the face of persecution and violent attacks".

  The Holy Father went on: "Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged by these inconveniences, which are sometimes very harsh, but allow yourselves to be guided and inspired by St. Paul ... who did not avoid difficulties and sufferings because he was well aware that they are part of the cross which, as Christians, we must carry every day. ... Suffering unites us to Christ and to our brothers and sisters, and expresses the fullness of love, the source and supreme trial of which is Christ's own Cross. ... Paul's deepest motivations were the fact that he was loved by Jesus Christ and his desire to transmit this love to others".

  "You are at the beginning of your episcopal ministry. Do not hesitate to draw from this powerful teacher of evangelisation, learning from him how to love Christ, how to sacrifice yourselves in the service of others, how to identify yourselves with the people among whom you are called to preach the Gospel, how to proclaim and bear witness to the presence of the Risen One".

  "You who, as successors of the Apostles, continue Paul's mission in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles", said the Pope in conclusion, "draw inspiration from him in seeing your vocation as closely dependent on the light of the Spirit of Christ".
AC/PAUL/NEW BISHOPS                        VIS 20080922 (540)


VATICAN CITY, 20 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the international congress of the Benedictine Federation, which is held in Rome every four years.

  The Pope noted how the abbots and superiors of the independent priories are meeting over these days "to reflect and debate on the means with which to incarnate the Benedictine charism in the current social and cultural context, and to respond to the ever-new challenges this raises for bearing witness to the Gospel".

  "In a sacrilegious world, and in a time marked by a worrying culture of emptiness and of 'non sense', you are called to announce the primacy of God without compromise, and to propose new paths of evangelisation", he said.

  Addressing the abbots and abbesses present at the audience, Benedict XVI recalled how they are "guardians of a heritage and a spirituality deeply rooted in the Gospel". In this context he expressed his appreciation for "the generous and competent cultural and formative work which so many of your monasteries perform, especially in favour of the younger generations, creating a climate of fraternal welcome which favours a unique experience of the Church".

  The Holy Father also highlighted the importance of preparing young people to face "the many demands of society with constant reference to the evangelical message, which is always current, inexhaustible and vitalising. Dedicate yourselves, then, with renewed apostolic ardour to the young, who are the future of the Church and of humanity. In order to build a 'new' Europe, we must begin with the new generations, offering them an intimate experience of the spiritual richness of the liturgy, of meditation, and of 'lectio divina'".

  Referring them to the "renowned Benedictine hospitality", the Pope indicated that "a community capable of truly fraternal life, fervently dedicated to liturgical prayer, study, and work, and cordially open to others who thirst for God, represents the best way to turn hearts, especially those of the young, to the monastic vocation and, in general, to a fruitful journey of faith".

  Addressing himself particularly to Benedictine nuns and female religious, the Holy Father encouraged them not to lose heart, despite the lack of vocations in some countries. "Faithfully persevering in your own vocations you bear witness with great effectiveness, also before the world, to your firm faith in the Lord of history, in Whose hands are the times and destinies of individuals, institutions and peoples". And he concluded: "Adopt the spiritual attitude of the Virgin Mary, who was content to be 'ancilla Domini', utterly compliant to the will of the Heavenly Father".
AC/.../BENEDICTINES                        VIS 20080922 (440)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Vincent Jordy of the clergy of the archdiocese of Strasbourg, France, rector of the major seminary of Strasbourg, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 8,280, population 1,734,145, Catholics 1,300,000, priests 872, permanent deacons 60, religious 1,826). The bishop-elect was born in Perpignan, France in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1992.
NEA/.../JORDY                                    VIS 20080919 (70)

Friday, September 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - The Infanta Cristina de Borbon of Spain, accompanied by Ignacio Urdangarin Liebaert, Duke of Palma, and an entourage.

 - Four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Panama, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Uriah Ashley of Penonome.

    - Bishop Oscar Mario Brown Jimenez of Santiago de Veraguas.

    - Bishop Anibal Saldana Santamaria O.A.R., prelate of Bocas del Toro.

    - Bishop Pedro Hernandez Cantarero C.M.F., apostolic vicar of Darien.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20080919 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today published its annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan. The Message bears the signatures of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council, and has as its theme this year (1429 AH / 2008 AD): "Christians and Muslims: Together for the dignity of the family."

  The Message has been published in various languages. Excerpts from the English version are given below:

  "During this month Christians close to you have shared your reflections and your family celebrations; dialogue and friendship have been strengthened. Praise be to God!"

  "This friendly rendezvous gives us an opportunity to reflect together on a mutually topical subject which will enrich our exchange and help us to get to know each other better, in our shared values as well as in our differences: ... the subject of the family.

  "One of the documents of Vatican Council II, 'Gaudium et Spes', which deals with the Church in the modern world, states: 'The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family. Hence Christians and all men who hold this community in high esteem sincerely rejoice in the various ways by which men today find help in fostering this community of love and perfecting its life'".

  "These words give us an opportune reminder that the development of both the human person and of society depends largely on the healthiness of the family! How many people carry, sometimes for the whole of their life, the weight of the wounds of a difficult or dramatic family background? ... Christians and Muslims can and must work together to safeguard the dignity of the family, today and in the future.

  "Given the high esteem in which both Muslims and Christians hold the family, we have already had many occasions, from the local to the international level, to work together in this field. The family, that place where love and life, respect for the other and hospitality are encountered and transmitted, is truly the 'fundamental cell of society'.

  "Muslims and Christians must never hesitate, not only to come to the aid of families in difficulty, but also to collaborate with all those who support the stability of the family as an institution and the exercise of parental responsibility, in particular in the field of education. I need only remind you that the family is the first school in which one learns respect for others, mindful of the identity and the difference of each one. Inter-religious dialogue and the exercise of citizenship cannot but benefit from this".
OP/RAMADAN MESSAGE/TAURAN:CELATA                    VIS 20080919 (470)


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Panama, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his remarks to them, the Pope highlighted the bishops' initiatives "to sow the Word of God in the hearts of Panamanians and to accompany them on their journey to maturity in the faith, that they may become authentic disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ".

  One "reason for joy", the Holy Father said, is "the fruitful missionary activity of priests, religious and lay people". This, he said, "contrasts the growing secularisation of society ... that invades all aspects of daily life, encourages a mentality in which God is effectively absent from human life and conscience, and often uses the communications media to spread individualism, hedonism, and ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of marriage, the family and Christian morals".

  In order to face these challenges, said the Pope, what is needed is "profound knowledge of the Lord Jesus and sincere love for Him". This is to be achieved through "mediating upon Sacred Scripture, adequate doctrinal and spiritual formation, constant prayer, the frequent receipt of the Sacrament of Penance, conscientious and active participation in Mass, and the practice of works of charity and mercy".

  Referring then to the pastoral care of youth and of vocations, Benedict XVI encouraged the prelates to pray to the Lord that He "may send many holy vocations to the priesthood, to which end the correct discernment of candidates is also necessary, as is apostolic zeal and the witness of communion and fraternity among priests".

  "Such a lifestyle", he went on, "must be inculcated beginning in the seminary, where the focus must be on serious academic discipline, time and space for daily prayer, the dignified celebration of the liturgy, adequate spiritual guidance, and the intense cultivation of human, Christian and priestly virtues. In this way, praying and studying, seminarians will be able to build within themselves the man of God that the faithful have the right to expect in their ministers".

  After emphasising the fact that many Panamanian families face difficulties "that threaten the stability of conjugal love, responsible parenthood and the harmony and stability of homes", the Holy Father pointed out that "enough effort can never be made to develop a vigorous pastoral care of families, so that people may discover the beauty of the vocation to Christian marriage, defend human life from conception to natural end, and build homes in which children are educated in love for the truth of the Gospel and in solid human values".

  Given the current situation in the country, it is particularly urgent "for the Church in Panama to continue to provide lights that may help to solve the serious human problems of the present, promoting a moral consensus of society on fundamental values. To this end it is of vital importance to divulge the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which enables a more profound and systematic knowledge of the ecclesial guidelines which must be applied, especially by the laity, in the political, social and economic fields".

  "In this way", Pope Benedict concluded, "Christian hope may illuminate the people of Panama, who thirst to know the truth about God and about man amidst the phenomena of poverty, youth violence, deficiencies in education, healthcare and housing, harassment by innumerable sects and corruption, which, to various degrees, disturb their lives and prevent their integral development".
AL/.../PANAMA                                    VIS 20080919 (590)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, on 6 September at the age of 93.

 - Bishop Jose Antonio Dammert Bellindo, emeritus of Cajamarca, Peru, on 10 September at the age of 91.

 - Bishop Daniel Gil Zorrilla S.J., emeritus of Salto, Uruguay, on 7 September at the age of 78.

 - Bishop Joseph Mukwaya, emeritus of Kiyinda-Mityana, Uganda, on 5 September at the age of 77.
.../DEATHS/...                                    VIS 20080918 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Panama, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Jose Dimas Cedeno Delgado of Panama, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Pablo Varela Server and Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta O.S.A.

    - Bishop Fernando Torres Duran of Chitre.

    - Bishop Audilio Aguilar Aguilar of Colon - Kuna Yala.

    - Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan O.A.R. of David.
AL/.../...                                        VIS 20080918 (80)


VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2008 (VIS) - At midday today in Castelgandolfo, the Pope met participants in a symposium on the life and the pastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII. The symposium was promoted by the Pave the Way Foundation, the president of which is Gary Krupp.

  Having mentioned the fact that 50 years have passed since the death, on 9 October 1958, of Servant of God Pius XII, the Holy Father pointed out that although "so much has been written and said of him during these last five decades, ... not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light.

  "The aim of your symposium", he added continuing his English-language talk, "has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth.

  "When one draws close to this noble Pope, ... one can come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organised assistance to the Jewish people.

  "Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes", said the Holy Father.

  He then highlighted how the work of the symposium had drawn attention to Pope Pius' "many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognised and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them".

  Pope Benedict thanked the Pave the Way Foundation "for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation.

  "It is my great hope", he concluded, "that this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice.
AC/SYMPOSIUM PIUS XII/...                            VIS 20080918 (440)


VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Jasna Krivosic-Prpic, the new ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Holy See.

  Addressing the diplomat in English, the Pope recalled how Bosnia and Herzegovina "contains a rich mix of cultures and precious patrimonies. Tragically, however, cultural and ethnic differences throughout history have not infrequently been a source of misunderstanding and friction, ... as each of the three constitutive peoples that make up your country know only too well".

  "No person wishes for war", he went on. "No civic or religious group should ever resort to violence or oppression. Yet, so many families in your land have been subjected to the suffering which results from these calamities. Listening to the voice of reason, however, and prompted by the hope that we all desire for ourselves and the generations which follow, every individual can find the strength to overcome past divisions".

  The Holy Father acknowledged "the progress being made to consolidate gestures of reconciliation", and he encouraged the international community "to continue its efforts to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina to this end. I trust that, in accepting the facts of regional history and the grave lessons to be learnt from recent years, the courage will be found to build a future with a healthy sense of solidarity.

  "A State's spirit is shaped at many levels", he added. "The family home is where children learn the essential values of responsibility and harmonious coexistence. It is here too that prejudices are either born or broken. Every parent therefore has the grave duty to instil in their children, through example, respect for the dignity that marks every person irrespective of ethnicity, religion or social grouping".

  "Good schooling not only attends to the cognitive development of children but to the civic and spiritual as well. Teachers ... can do much to discredit any false anthropological ideologies that contain seeds of hostility and to foster an appreciation of cultural and religious diversity in the life of a country".

  The communications media, the Pope insisted, "can do much to overcome lingering attitudes of distrust by ensuring that they do not become tools of prejudice but rather transcend particular interests and promote broad-based and inclusive civic goals, thus becoming instruments at the service of greater justice and solidarity".

  At the same time, the State "is called to pursue with vigour its responsibility to strengthen the institutions and extol the principles which lie at the heart of all democracies. ... I am sure that the constitutional reforms which your government is currently studying will address the legitimate aspirations of all citizens, guaranteeing both the rights of individuals and social groups", he said.

  "For her part the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina", Pope Benedict concluded, "will continue to assist in the attainment of the goals of reconciliation, peace and prosperity. ... She exercises her mission of universal charity in its threefold form: material, intellectual and spiritual. ... The promotion of spiritual and moral values ... not only forms part of the transmission of religious traditions but also nourishes the wider culture, motivating men and women of goodwill to strengthen ties of solidarity and to manifest how a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, apostolic nuncio to Senegal and Cape Verde, and apostolic delegate to Mauritania, as apostolic nuncio to Guinea Bissau.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Colonel Elmar Theodor Mader, commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, on his farewell visit.

  Yesterday he received in audience Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke of his recent apostolic trip to France, which culminated in his pilgrimage to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette.

  The Church in France "has since the 2nd century played a vital civilising role", said the Holy Father, noting how, "in this context, the need developed for a healthy distinction between the political and religious spheres. ... True laicism", he went on, "does not mean overlooking the spiritual dimension, rather it means recognising that such a dimension is, in a radical way, the guarantor of our freedom and of the autonomy of earthly things, thanks to the dictates of creative Wisdom which human conscience knows how to accept and put into effect.

  "This was the perspective of my broad-ranging reflections on the theme of 'the origins of western theology and the roots of European culture', which I delivered at my meeting with the world of culture in a place chosen for its symbolic significance, the College des Bernardins".

  The starting point of that talk, Benedict XVI explained, was "a reflection upon monasticism, the aim of which was to seek God, 'quaerere Deum'". This practice, "by its nature, led monks to a culture of the word. ... In seeking God Who revealed Himself to us in Sacred Scripture, an important role was played by the physical sciences, which seek to investigate the secrets of language. Consequently, what developed in monasteries was the 'eruditio' which facilitated the formation of culture. Precisely for this reason 'quaerere Deum' - seeking God - is today, as it was yesterday, the foundation of all true culture".

  The Pope recalled how he had encouraged priests, deacons, religious and seminarians "to give priority to listening to the divine word", while to young people "I consigned two treasures of Christian faith: the Holy Spirit and the Cross. The Spirit opens human intelligence to horizons larger than itself, and brings it to understand the beauty and the truth of God's love revealed on the Cross".

  During the Eucharistic celebration on the esplanade of Les Invalides, said the Pope, "I invited the faithful ... to seek the living God, Who showed us His true face in Jesus, present in the Eucharist, encouraging us to love our fellows just as He loved us".

  "In Lourdes", he went on, "I immediately joined thousands of faithful on the 'Jubilee Way'" and "participated in the traditional torchlight procession, which is such a stupendous expression of faith in God and of devotion to His Mother and ours. Lourdes really is a place of light, of prayer, of hope and of conversion, ... where pilgrims learn to see the crosses of their own lives in the light of the glorious Cross of Christ".

  The Pope highlighted the fact that "the first gesture Mary made when she appeared to Bernadette in the Grotto of Massabielle was the sign of the cross. ... That gesture encapsulates the entire message of Lourdes", he said.

  During the Mass for sick people, celebrated in front of the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary on the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Benedict XVI recalled, "I meditated upon the tears Mary shed upon the Cross, and upon her smile which illuminated Easter morning".

  Having called on the faithful to render thanks to God for the fruits of this apostolic trip, the Holy Father affirmed that "in Lourdes the Holy Virgin invites everyone to consider the earth as the place of our pilgrimage towards our definitive homeland in heaven. The truth is we are all pilgrims, we need the Mother who guides us; and in Lourdes her smile invites us to continue our journey trusting in the knowledge that God is good, God is love".
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, the presentation took place of an upcoming international conference entitled: "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical Appraisal 150 years after 'The Origin of Species'". The conference is due to be held in Rome from 3 to 7 March 2009.

The congress has been jointly organised by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, U.S.A., under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture and as part of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest).

  Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Fr. Marc Leclerc S.J., professor of the philosophy of nature at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Gennaro Auletta, scientific director of the STOQ Project and professor of the philosophy of science at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Alessandro Minelli, professor of zoology at the University of Padua, Italy.

  "Debates on the theory of evolution are becoming ever more heated, both among Christians and in specifically evolutionist circles", Fr. Leclerc explained. "In particular, with the approach of the ... 150th anniversary of the publication of 'The Origin of Species', Charles Darwin's work is still too often discussed more in ideological terms than in the scientific ones which were his true intention".

  "In such circumstances - as Christian scientists, philosophers and theologians directly involved in the debate alongside colleagues from other confessions or of no confession at all - we felt it incumbent upon us to bring some clarification. The aim is to generate wide-ranging rational discussion in order to favour fruitful dialogue among scholars from various fields and areas of expertise. The Church has profound interest in such dialogue, while fully respecting the competencies of each and all. This is, however, an academic congress, organised by two Catholic universities, the Gregorian University in Rome and Notre Dame in the United States, and as such is not an ecclesial event. Yet the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture serves to underline the Church's interest in such questions".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a Message, in the Pope's name, to participants in a prayer meeting being held for the opening of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations.

  The Holy Father, the English-language Message reads, "joins the members of the diplomatic community and U.N. officials present in imploring from Almighty God the guidance and strength needed to carry out the urgent tasks facing the United Nations in the coming months, including the continuing implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the NEPAD programme (New Partnership for Africa's Development), and other initiatives aimed at ensuring that the whole human family shares in the benefits of globalisation.

  "Recalling with gratitude his visit to the General Assembly last April on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, His Holiness renews his appeal to international leaders to re-appropriate the lofty moral vision and the transcendent principles of justice embodied in the United Nations' founding documents.

  "With these sentiments the Holy Father invokes upon all in attendance an abundance of divine blessings, trusting that these moments of reflection and prayer will strengthen them in their commitment to upholding the dignity of each human person and building a world of ever greater solidarity, freedom and peace".
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Monday, September 15, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 15 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Following this morning's Eucharistic celebration with sick people in Lourdes, the Pope travelled to the airport of Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees where the departure ceremony took place.

  The Holy Father was greeted by Francois Fillon, prime minister of France. Also present were the political and civil authorities, bishops from the Mini-Pyrenees region, and the president, vice-president and secretary general of the Conference of Bishops of France.

  Benedict XVI thanked the authorities, bishops, law enforcement officials, "and all the countless volunteers who have offered their time and expertise. Everyone has worked devotedly and whole-heartedly for the successful outcome of my four days in your country. Thank you very much".

  "My journey", he added, "has been like a diptych, the first panel of which was Paris, a city that I know well and the scene for several important meetings. I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass in the prestigious setting of the Esplanade des Invalides. There I met a vibrant people, proud of their firm faith; I came to encourage them to persevere courageously in living out the teaching of Christ and His Church".

  The Pope also recalled how he had prayed Vespers with priests and religious, and with seminarians whom he had sought to affirm "in their vocation in the service of God and neighbour".

  "And how can I fail to recall here the prestigious encounter with the world of culture at the Institut de France and the College des Bernardins? As you know, I consider culture and its proponents to be the privileged vehicles of dialogue between faith and reason, between God and man".

  The Holy Father identified the "second panel of the diptych" as Lourdes, an "emblematic place which attracts and fascinates every believer, ... like a light in the darkness of our groping to reach God. Mary opened there a gate towards a hereafter which challenges and charms us".

  "The Pope", he said, "was duty bound to come to Lourdes to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions. Before the Grotto of Massabielle, I prayed for all of you. I prayed for the Church. I prayed for France and for the world".

  Like any other pilgrim, the Holy Father explained, "I completed all four stages of the Jubilee Way, visiting the parish church, the Cachot and the Grotto, and finally the chapel of the hospital. I also prayed with and for the sick who come here to seek physical relief and spiritual hope. God does not forget them, and neither does the Church. Like every faithful pilgrim, I wanted to take part in the torchlight procession and the Blessed Sacrament procession. They carry aloft to God our prayers and our praise".

  Benedict XVI also recalled how he had shared with French bishops "my conviction that the times are favourable for a return to God".

  "May God bless France!" he cried. "May harmony and human progress reign on her soil, and may the Church be the leaven in the dough that indicates with wisdom and without fear, according to her specific duty, who God is!"

  After expressing his desire to return to France, the Holy Father concluded: "From Rome I shall remain close to you, and when I pray before the replica of the Lourdes Grotto which has been in the Vatican Gardens for a little over a century, I shall think of you".

  The papal flight took off at 13.30 and is due to arrive at Rome's Ciampino airport at around 15.30. From there the Holy Father will travel to his residence at Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Pope departed from St. Joseph Hermitage, where he has been staying during his visit to Lourdes, and went to complete the fourth stage of the Lourdes Jubilee Way by visiting the oratory of the hospital where, on 3 June 1858, Bernadette received First Communion. The Holy Father prayed in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament, then pronounced the fourth and final prayer of the Jubilee Way.

  At 9.30 a.m. in front of the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for today's liturgical feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in the presence of sick people and pilgrims who had come to Lourdes for the occasion.

  On today's memorial, said the Pope in his homily, "we contemplate Mary sharing her Son's compassion for sinners. ... As in the case of her Son Jesus, one might say that she too was led to perfection through this suffering, so as to make her capable of receiving the new spiritual mission that her Son entrusts to her immediately before 'giving up His spirit: that of becoming the mother of Christ in His members".

  "Today", he went on, "Mary dwells in the joy and the glory of the Resurrection". She "loves each of her children, giving particular attention to those who, like her Son at the hour of His Passion, are prey to suffering; she loves them quite simply because they are her children, according to the will of Christ on the Cross".

  "At the instigation of the inspired word of Scripture, Christians have always sought the smile of Our Lady, this smile which mediaeval artists were able to represent with such marvellous skill and to show to advantage. This smile of Mary is for all; but it is directed quite particularly to those who suffer, so that they can find comfort and solace therein".

  Pope Benedict then recalled how the Virgin Mary, during her apparition of 3 March 1858, "first taught Bernadette to know her smile, this being the most appropriate point of entry into the revelation of her mystery.

  "In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures", he added, "is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person. This smile, a true reflection of God's tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope.

  "Unfortunately we know only too well: the endurance of suffering can upset life's most stable equilibrium, it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life. There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace.

  "When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence: we seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but also the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith. Who could be more intimate to us than Christ and His Holy Mother, the Immaculate One? More than any others, they are capable of understanding us and grasping how hard we have to fight against evil and suffering".

  "I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness, in support of life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God".

  "Yes", the Holy Father emphasised, "to seek the smile of the Virgin Mary is not a pious infantilism, it is the aspiration, as Psalm 44 says, of those who are 'the richest of the people'. 'The richest', that is to say, in the order of faith, those who have attained the highest degree of spiritual maturity and know precisely how to acknowledge their weakness and their poverty before God".

  "Mary's smile is a spring of living water. ... From her believing heart, from her maternal heart, flows living water which purifies and heals. By immersing themselves in the baths at Lourdes, how many people have discovered and experienced the gentle maternal love of the Virgin Mary, becoming attached to her in order to bind themselves more closely to the Lord!"

  Then, with particular reference to the sick, the Pope went on to recall that "Christ imparts His salvation by means of the Sacraments, and especially in the case of those suffering from sickness or disability, by means of the grace of the Sacrament of the Sick. For each individual, suffering is always something alien. It can never be tamed. That is why it is hard to bear, and harder still - as certain great witnesses of Christ's holiness have done - to welcome it as a significant element in our vocation".

  "The grace of this Sacrament consists in welcoming Christ the healer into ourselves. However, Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world. In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; He eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him. Christ's presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces".

  "Without the Lord's help, the yoke of sickness and suffering weighs down on us cruelly", said the Holy Father. "By receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, we seek to carry no other yoke that that of Christ, strengthened through His promise to us that His yoke will be easy to carry and His burden light".

  "Vatican Council II presented Mary as the figure in whom the entire mystery of the Church is typified. Her personal journey outlines the profile of the Church, which is called to be just as attentive to those who suffer as she herself was".

  Finally, the Pope greeted the helpers who contribute to caring for the sick in Lourdes "with competence and generosity", and who represent "the arms of the servant Church".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by reading a passage from a prayer to Mary written for this Jubilee celebration:

  "Because you are the smile of God, the reflection of the light of Christ, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Because you chose Bernadette in her lowliness, because you are the morning star, the gate of heaven and the first creature to experience the resurrection. Our Lady of Lourdes, with our brothers and sisters whose hearts and bodies are in pain, we pray to you!"

  The homily over, the Holy Father administered the Sacrament of the Sick to 10 sick pilgrims.

  Following the Eucharistic celebration, at 11.45 a.m., the Pope travelled to the Antoine Beguere stadium from where he was taken by helicopter to the airport of Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees, where he arrived at 12.30 p.m.
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