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Friday, October 31, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday evening after the eucharistic celebration in the Vatican basilica presided over by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Holy Father met with professors and students of the Roman pontifical universities on the occasion of the opening of the academic year.

Commenting on what St. Paul says about Christian wisdom, distinguishing between the wisdom of God and the "wisdom of this world", Benedict XVI affirmed that the latter "is a way of living and seeing things divorced from God, following dominant opinions according to the criteria of success and power. 'Divine wisdom' consists in following the mind of Christ; it is Christ who opens the eyes of the heart to follow the path of truth and love".

"St. Paul exhorts those who consider themselves wise according to the criteria of the world to 'become fools' in order to become truly wise before God. This is not an anti-intellectual attitude or an opposition to 'recta ratio'. Paul - following Jesus - opposes a type of intellectual pride in which human beings, even though knowing much, lose the sensibility of truth and the ability to open themselves to the newness of divine action".

The Pope emphasized that the Apostle to the Gentiles "denounced the poison of false wisdom, which is human pride. What is harmful is not knowledge in itself but rather the presumption, the "boastfulness" of what we have come to - or believe we have come to - know. It is precisely in this that revolts and discord have come from within the Church and, analogously, in society. We must, therefore, cultivate the wisdom, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit".

"The 'thinking of Christ' that we have received through grace purifies us of false wisdom. We come to this 'wisdom of Christ' through the Church and in the Church, letting ourselves be carried on the river of its living tradition".

The Holy Father shared his desire with the professors and students that, being faithful to Christ, "we may fervently dedicate ourselves to intellectual work, free of the temptation of pride, and boast always and only in the Lord".


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Today the Pope received members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences whose plenary assembly is meeting from 31 October to 3 November on the theme of: "Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life".

  At the beginning of his address, the Holy Father asserted that both Pius XII just as John Paul II highlighted the fact that "there is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation".

  "In order to develop and evolve, the world must first 'be', and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence".

  "To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say", Benedict XVI continued, "that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously".

  While recalling that Galileo "saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author", the Pope emphasized that "this image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos".

  "The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is 'capax Dei', points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject". This is why, he concluded, "the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that 'every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not 'produced' by the parents - and also that it is immortal'.  This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology and invites exploration of it by modern thought".


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The participants in the XIII Conference of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship" (Hermandad Catolica de las Comunidades y Asociaciones de la Renovacion Carismatica) were received by Benedict XVI this morning in the Vatican.

  "As I have stated on other occasions", the Pope said, "ecclesial movements and new communities, which have flourished since Vatican Council II, constitute a unique gift from the Lord and a invaluable resource for the life of the Church. They should be welcomed with confidence and esteemed for their various contributions so that they might be of efficient and fruitful benefit to all".

  Referring then to one of the conference's themes, "charisms in the life of the local Church", the Holy Father asserted that "what the New Testament tells us about charisms, which appear as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but an ever-living reality: it is the same Divine Spirit, soul of the Church, which acts in the Church in every age and these works, mysterious and efficacious, are made manifest in our time in a providential manner".

  "The movements and new communities are like eruptions of the Holy Spirit in the Church and contemporary society. We can affirm that one of the elements and positive aspects of the Communities of Charismatic Covenant Renewal is the emphasis that the charisms and gifts of the Holy Spirit receive in these and their merit is in having recalled the actuality of these [charisms and gifts] in the Church".

  Benedict XVI continually recalled that in various documents Vatican Council II mentioned the theme of new ecclesial communities and that also "the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlights the value and importance of new charisms in the Church, whose authenticity is guaranteed by their openness to submit to the discernment of ecclesial authority. Precisely because there is a promising flourishing of ecclesial movements and community, it is important that pastors practice a prudent and wise discernment process with them ".

  "I know that various ways are being studied to give papal recognition to new ecclesial movements and communities and that those who have already received it are not few in number. ... Pastors, above all the bishops, should keep this fact in mind when discerning according to their competency".

  The Pope noted that one of the objectives of the Fraternity, "following the indications of ... John Pual II, is safeguarding the Catholic identity of the charismatic communities, encouraging them to maintain close ties to the bishops and the Roman Pontiff", and showing their pleasure for the creation of a permanent center for the formation of members and directors of the charismatic communities.

  "Safeguarding fidelity to Catholic identity and an ecclesial nature in your communities", the Pope concluded, "will allow you to give everywhere a living and active witness of the profound mystery of the Church. Thus the ability of the various communities to attract new members will also grow".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This afternoon the Press Office of the Holy See published the following brief:

  "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience the President of the Republic of Lebanon, His Excellency Gen. Michel Sleiman and his entourage. Following the audience President Sleiman met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, where they were then joined by His Excellency Mr. Fawzi Salloukh, the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, and His Excellency Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

  In the course of cordial conversation, the Holy See's interest in Lebanon and its continual struggle to safeguard its unique identity was reaffirmed. Vigorous appreciation was then expressed for the effort that the country and its leaders are carrying out with the intention of bringing institutional life back on track of normal political dialogue, in which every component of the Lebanon population might offer its contribution to the common welfare and see their concerns and expectations met with due consideration. Finally, the delicate regional situation was touched upon, expressing hopes for a rapid and just solution to the Palestinian question and noting the conditions and problems of the Christian communities in the Middle East".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Benedict's general prayer intention for November is: "That the testimony of love offered by the saints may fortify Christians in their devotion to God and their neighbor, imitating Christ who came to serve and not to be served".

  His mission intention is: "That the Christian communities of Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may know how to find the most suitable ways to announce Him, in full faithfulness to the Gospel, to the people of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the dicastery charged with promoting the Church's charitable work, will travel to the United States from 3 - 10 November to meet with the bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), whose plenary assembly will be held in Baltimore.

  The cardinal, along with the directors of Catholic Charities, USA and Catholic Relief Services, will study some of the theological elements highlighted in Benedict XVI's encyclical "God Is Love". During the course of his visit he will also give conferences on charity in the archdioceses of New York, Denver, and Newark and will receive a doctorate "honoris causa" from Seton Hall University, the oldest Catholic diocesan university in the United States.

  The main objective of the visit is to encourage the exchange of experience in the pastoral sphere of charity at a time, he asserted in a press release made public today, characterized by "new challenges and opportunities given the rapidly changing demographic and social fabric".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio in Chad and the Central African Republic with members of his family.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 Oct 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultation with which the Holy See "for over thirty years has had regular and fruitful contacts, which have contributed to greater understanding and acceptance between Catholics and Jews".

  "I gladly take this occasion," said the Pope, "to reaffirm the Church's commitment to implementing the principles set forth in the historic declaration "Nostra Aetate" of the Second Vatican Council. That declaration, which firmly condemned all forms of anti-Semitism, represented both a significant milestone in the long history of Catholic-Jewish relations and a summons to a renewed theological understanding of the relations between the Church and the Jewish People".

  "Christians today," the Holy Father continued, "are increasingly conscious of the spiritual patrimony they share with the people of the Torah, the people chosen by God in his inexpressible mercy, a patrimony that calls for greater mutual appreciation, respect, and love.  Jews too are challenged to discover what they have in common with all who believe in the Lord, the God of Israel, who first revealed himself through his powerful and life-giving word".

  "In our troubled world, so frequently marked by poverty, violence, and exploitation, dialogue between cultures and religions must more and more be seen as a sacred duty incumbent upon all those who are committed to building a world worthy of man.  The ability to accept and respect one another, and to speak the truth in love, is essential for overcoming differences, preventing misunderstandings, and avoiding needless confrontations. … A sincere dialogue needs both openness and a firm sense of identity on both sides, in order for each to be enriched by the gifts of the other".


VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning the new Canadian Ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy, presented her credential letters to Benedict XVI.

  In his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father first noted the words of John Paul II during his visit to Canada in 2002, when he affirmed that the Canadians were "heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism, enriched even more by the blend of many different cultural elements. But the core of your heritage is the spiritual and transcendent vision of life based on Christian revelation which gave vital impetus to your development as a free, democratic, and caring society, recognized throughout the world as a champion of human rights and human dignity".

  The Pope then recalled that Canada and the Holy See will soon celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations and praised that country's vocation of "encouraging multilateral collaboration in favor of a solution to the many problems that present a challenge for humanity in this age". The Holy Father noted in this regard, "the agreement of Canada and the Holy See, along with other countries, to support the treaty prohibiting anti-personnel land mines and to promote its adoption throughout the world. … At the same time Canada and the Holy See, together with other nations, are making the effort to contribute to the stability, peace, and development in the Great Lakes region of Africa".

  Quoting the words of the new ambassador, Benedict XVI reaffirmed that "Catholicism, thanks to its institutions and the culture that it promotes, represents the cornerstone of the building of Canadian society. Nevertheless, profound changes can be noticed today, which are seen in different sectors and at times cause concern to the point of asking ourselves if it does not mean a regression in the understanding of the human being. These changes mainly concern the areas of defense and the promotion of life and the family based on natural marriage".

  In this context, "a culture of life can nourish anew the personal and social existence of Canada as a whole. "For that to happen," the Pope said, "I believe that it is necessary to redefine the meaning of the exercise of liberty … which is perceived more and more as an absolute value, an intangible right of the individual, regardless of the importance of the divine origins of freedom and its communal dimension. … In this interpretation, only the individual can decide and choose the form, characteristics, and ends of life, death, and marriage".

  "True freedom," he observed, "is ultimately based on and develops in God. It is a gift that can be accepted as the seed from which the person and society can grow responsibly and be enriched. The exercise of this freedom implies reference to a natural moral law that is universal, which precedes and unifies all rights and duties. In this perspective, I would like to show my support to all the Canadian Bishops' initiatives in favor of family life and thus of the dignity of the human being.

  Concluding, Benedict XVI spoke of that country's Catholic schools, which "thanks to their contribution to the transmission of the faith to new generations, preparing them for dialogue among the different components of the nation, carry out a constant need of the Church's mission for the good of all, and enrich Canadian society as a whole".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the document "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood" from the Congregation for Catholic Education was presented. The text consists of fifteen pages and was published in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese.

  Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, O.P., and Fr. Carlo Bresciani, respectively the prefect, secretary, and consultant and psychologist of the Congregation for Catholic Education took part in the press conference.

  Cardinal Grocholewski affirmed that the document highlights "the socio-cultural context that, more or less, influences the mentality of the candidates that apply to the seminary, creating, in some cases, wounds that are still unhealed or particular difficulties that could 'condition their ability to progress along the formative path toward the priesthood'".

  "These problems," he said "are seen not only at the moment of entry into the seminary but, at times, also clearly manifest themselves at the moment prior to priestly ordination".

  The cardinal stated that "the influence of the socio-cultural context as well as the need for a demanding human formation of the future priest, raise the question of the eventual use of the psychological sciences in the seminaries".

  "This document," he continued, "emphasizes the fundamental role of the formators and, therefore, the need of an adequate preparation in the area of vocational pedagogy". On the other hand, he said, "in the human formation - which cannot be separated from the spiritual formation - the spiritual director has a special role". In this sense he quoted the document where it says that "spiritual direction can in no way be substituted by forms of analysis or psychological assistance, and that the spiritual life, of itself, favors growth in the human virtues if no blocks of a psychological nature exist".

  He then stressed another aspect that the document focuses on: "the importance of divine grace in the formation of candidates to the priesthood". The cardinal indicated that "recourse to experts in the psychological sciences should be used only 'in some cases' to show the assessment of a diagnosis, or eventual therapy, or psychological support in the development of the human qualities demanded by the exercise of the ministry. These should be consulted," he insisted, "'si casus ferat', meaning in exceptional cases that present particular difficulties".

  "The aid of psychology," he continued, "should be integrated into the candidate's global formation in such a way that it does not hinder but rather ensures, in a particular way, the safeguarding of the inalienable value of spiritual accompaniment". This is why, he said, "psychologists cannot be part of the formation team".

  Cardinal Grocholewski concluded by recalling that the document "on three occasions cites canon 1052 of the C.I.C., according to which, for the bishop to proceed to ordination, he must have moral certainty that the candidate's suitability, 'has been positively established' and that, in the case of a substantiated doubt, cannot proceed to ordination".

  Archbishop Brugues asserted that "no one, not even religious or diocesans superiors, can enter into the details of candidates' psychological profiles without having received their prior, explicit, informed, and total consent … The psychologist cannot disclose aspects of their patients' private lives to third parties, regardless of their authority, be it religious or political, without the free consent of the interested parties".

  Finally, Fr. Carlo Bresciani emphasized that "with these guidelines, the Church, far from wanting to entrust to psychologists the psychological formation of candidates to the priesthood, which is and continues to be essentially of a spiritual nature, seeks to value what the human and the psychological sciences in particular can contribute to the preparation of priests with equilibrated personalities. The Church appreciates the psychological disciplines but, at the same time, wants to discipline its use in a way that it might be truly beneficial".


VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

- Archbishop Geraldo Lydio Rocha, of Mariana (Brazil), President of the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil, with Archbishop Luiz Soares Vieira, of Manaus and Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, auxiliary of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, respectively Vice President and General Secretary of the same organization.

- Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena, O.F.M., from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kole (Democratic Republic of the Congo), in accordance with canon 401, paragraph 2, of the C.I.C.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2008 (VIS) - To mark the 50th anniversary of the election to the pontifical throne of Blessed John XXIII, Benedict XVI spoke of the "Papa buono" in remarks he made at the end of a Mass celebrated yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica. The Mass, presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., was attended by around 3,000 pilgrims from the late Pope's home diocese of Bergamo, Italy.

  Benedict XVI recalled how at the time John XXIII was elected "the grace of God was preparing a period of commitment and promise for the Church and for society, and it found in the docility to the Holy Spirit which marked the entire life of John XXIII a fertile soil in which to sow harmony, hope, unity and peace, for the good of all humanity.

  "Pope John", the Holy Father added, "identified faith in Christ and membership of the Church ... as a guarantee of fruitful Christian witness in the world. And thus, amid the sharp contrasts of his time, the Pope remained a man and pastor of peace, who opened unexpected horizons of fraternity among Christians and of dialogue with everyone, in both East and West".

  Pope Benedict highlighted how Vatican Council II, "called, prepared and begun" by John XXIII, was "a truly special gift for the Church. ... We are all committed to accepting that gift in appropriate ways, continuing to reflect upon its teachings and to translate its practical guidelines into everyday life".

  Going on, then, to refer to Bergamo's recent diocesan synod which focused on the theme of the parish, the Pope affirmed: "It is in the parish that we learn to live our own faith solidly. This enables us to keep the rich tradition of the past alive and to re-propose its values in a secularised social environment which is often hostile and indifferent".

  Benedict XVI also dwelt on the importance John XXIII gave to the family, "where we learn to apply the fundamental Christian precept of love in daily life", he said. "The late Pope trustingly gave the parish - a family of families - the task of nourishing the sentiments of communion and fraternity among the faithful.

  "Moulded by the Eucharist", Benedict XVI concluded, quoting the words of his predecessor, "the parish will become a beneficial ferment amidst the widespread consumerism and individualism of our time, reawakening solidarity and opening, in faith, the eye of the heart to recognise the Father, Who is gratuitous love and Who wishes to share his own joy with His children".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 20,000 faithful, the Pope spoke of St. Paul's theology of the Cross.

  The Holy Father recalled how the Apostle of the Gentiles, following his experience on the road to Damascus, changed his life completely. Paul remained deeply marked by "the central significance of the Cross: he understood that Jesus died and rose for everyone. The Cross, then, demonstrated the gratuitous and merciful love of God", he said.

  "For St. Paul the Cross had a fundamental primacy in the history of humanity. It is the focal point of his theology because 'Cross' means salvation as grace for all creatures. The theme of the Cross became an essential and principal element of the Apostle's preaching".

  Benedict XVI then went on to highlight how "the 'stumbling block' and 'foolishness' of the Cross", of which St. Paul, speaks are to be found "in the fact that where there seemed to be only failure, suffering and defeat, there, in reality, is all the power of God's limitless Love".

  "If for the Jews the reason for rejecting the Cross was in the Revelation, in other words in the God of the Fathers, for the Greeks - that is, the pagans - the criterion for opposing the Cross lay in reason. For them, in fact, the Cross was death, foolishness. ... It was clearly inconceivable to imagine that a God could end up on a Cross! And we see how this Greek logic has also become the common logic of our own time".

  "Why", the Pope asked, "did St. Paul make the word Cross such a fundamental part of his preaching? The answer", he said, "is not difficult: the Cross reveals 'the power of God' which is different from human power; it reveals, in fact, His love".

  For the Apostle "the crucified Christ is wisdom because He truly shows Who God is: the power of love which goes even unto the Cross to save man. God uses means and instruments that to human beings seem to be mere weakness. The crucified Christ reveals, on the one hand, the weakness of man and, on the other, the true power of God, in other words the gratuitousness of love; and precisely this complete gratuitousness of love is true wisdom".

  The Holy Father explained how St. Paul, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, makes "two fundamental affirmations: the one, that Christ, Whom God made to be sin for our sake, died for everyone; and the other, that God reconciled us to Him not counting our trespasses against us. It is from this 'ministry of reconciliation' that all slaves are ransomed".

  "St. Paul renounced his own life and committed himself totally to the ministry of reconciliation, of the Cross which is salvation for us all. This is something we must also do. We can find our strength in the humility of love and our wisdom in the weakness to renounce, thus to enter into the strength of God. ... We have to mould our lives on this true wisdom, not living for ourselves, but living in faith in the God of Whom we can all say: 'He loved me and gave Himself for me'".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of apostolic vicar of Alexandria, Egypt, presented by Bishop Giuseppe Bausardo S.D.B. in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He appointed Msgr. Gennaro De Martino, vicar delegate of the same apostolic vicariate, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" thereof.

 - Gave his assent to the canonical election, by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church, of Fr. Joseph Soueif, "sincellus" for pastoral care and the implementation of synodal acts of the archieparchy of Tripoli, Lebanon, as archbishop of Cyprus of the Maronites (area 9,351, population 785,000, Catholics 10,000, priests 7, religious 8), Cyprus. The archbishop-elect was born in Chekka, Lebanon in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Fr. Marco Tasca, minister general of the Friars Minor Conventual and chancellor of the St. Bonaventure Pontifical Theological Faculty ("Seraphicum"), for the occasion of an international congress which opened today in Rome. The congress has as its theme: "Vatican Council II in the Pontificate of John Paul II".

  The event has been organised by the St. Bonaventure Theological Faculty and the Institute for Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II.

  After recalling how Vatican Council II (1962-1965) was convened by John XXIII, the 50th anniversary of whose election to the Cathedra of Peter falls today, Benedict XVI writes that "the conciliar documents have not lost their relevance with the passing of time; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalised society".

  Referring to his predecessor, the Holy Father highlights how John Paul II, "in almost every document he produced, and even more so in his decisions and acts as Pontiff, welcomed the fundamental tenets of Vatican II, thus becoming a qualified interpreter and coherent witness of the Council. His constant concern was to make everyone aware of the advantages that would ensue from welcoming the conciliar vision, not only for the good of the Church, but also for that of civil society and of the people in it".

  "We are all debtors of that extraordinary ecclesial event", writes Benedict XVI. "The vast doctrinal patrimony, which we rediscover in its Dogmatic Constitutions in its Declarations and Decrees, still stimulates us to a deep appraisal of the Word of the Lord in order to apply it to the Church today, bearing in mind the many requirements of the men and women of the modern world, who have an urgent need to know and experience the light of Christian hope".

  The Pope assures participants in the congress that the "Doctor Seraphicus" (St. Bonaventure), "in the richness of his thought, can still offer you valid guidelines with which to approach the conciliar documents in order to seek satisfying answers to the many questions of our time".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, has written a message to Hindus for the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, which this year falls on 28 October. The message is entitled, " Christians and Hindus: Together in Favour of Non-violence".

  In the English-language Message, the cardinal proposes "considering together how we can live harmoniously in today's society, witnessing to the truth, light and hope that Diwali celebrates. While religions are often blamed for society's ills, we know that it is rather the manipulation of religion, contrary to its fundamental beliefs, that is used to carry out so many forms of violence".

  "In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus called on His disciples to love their enemies, to pray for those who hated them. ... In the Hindu tradition, non-violence is one of the more important teachings. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation, is respected and held in high regard by people of different generations around the world for his complete dedication to the service of humanity. During the course of his struggle for freedom, he realised that 'an eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind'. Throughout his life, he developed among others, the concept of 'Ahimsa' (non-violence).

  "He is a model for non-violence and he led by example to the point of laying down his life because of his refusal to engage in violence.

  "Non-violence is not merely a tactical manoeuvre but is the attitude of one who, as the Pope affirmed, 'is so convinced of God's love and power' that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's enemy is the revolution of love, a love that does not rely ultimately on human resources but is a gift of God.

  "Non-violence is encouraged by many other religions. Non-violence is central to our beliefs as the way to promote truth, light, mutual respect, freedom and harmony. As religious leaders called to uphold the truth found in our respective religions, let us help to foster non-violence among our followers and support it in their actions.

  "Let us do all we can to promote the sacredness of human life, the good of the poor and lowly in our midst and collaborate, through dialogue, to foster the dignity of the human person regardless of race or caste, creed or class. As Hindus and Christians, especially in the present situation, let us be won over by love without reserve, with the conviction that non-violence is the only way to build a global society that is more compassionate, more just and more caring".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Johan Bonny of the clergy of Bruges, Belgium, rector of the Pontifical Belgian college in Rome and official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as bishop of Antwerp (area 2,570, population 1,474,367, Catholics 1,284,682, priests 789, permanent deacons 76, religious 2,312), Belgium. The bishop-elect was born in Ostend, Belgium in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1988. He succeeds Bishop Paul Van den Berghe, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, October 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The working sessions of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops concluded this morning with the approval of the 55 propositions which the Synod Fathers have presented to Benedict XVI.

  By order of the Pope, a provisional and unofficial Italian-language version of the propositions has been made public by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. This is the second time that Benedict XVI has allowed the publication of the closing propositions of a synodal assembly. Normally the propositions are given privately to the Pope for him to consider while preparing the Apostolic Exhortation, the official closing document of a Synod.

  The first part of the list, entitled: "The Word of God in the Faith of the Church" includes the propositions from 3 to 13. They focus on the duty of pastors to educate the faithful to gain a better experience of their relationship with Christ Jesus, through reading and meditation upon Scripture.

  After analysing the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the propositions highlight how the poor, "in need not only of bread but also of the words of life", have a preferential right to know the Gospel.

  Referring to one of the "challenges of the modern world: the great progress of science in respect to its knowledge of the natural world, with the paradoxical result that it can end up obscuring the ethical message arising therefrom", the Synod asks pastors "to be sensitive to the rediscovery of natural law and its function in the formation of consciences".

  The second part (propositions 14 to 37) focuses on the theme: "The Word of God in the Faith of the Church". On the subject of the Word of God and the liturgy, it is suggested the Bible be placed in a visible position inside churches, and that the Word of God be clearly proclaimed by people who have "familiarity with the dynamics of communication".

  On the subject of the homily - one of the major themes of the synodal assembly - the propositions stress the need to prepare it well, bearing in mind the day's biblical readings, what those readings mean to the priest, and what he must then say to the community in the light of their real situation. The need to promote "lectio divina" (the prayerful reading of Scripture) is also emphasised.

  The Synod Fathers encourage the laity in their efforts to transmit the faith and, in this context, underline the indispensable role of women, especially within the family, in catechises and in the ministry of the lectorate. They also note that, although the liturgy of the Word is a privileged place for the encounter with Christ, it must not be confused with the liturgy of the Eucharist.

  Another of the propositions reflects a suggestion made by the Pope himself: that, in exegesis, it is important to bear in mind the two methodologies indicated by the Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum": the historical and the theological. This is because, as Benedict XVI said in an address during the Synod, "if an hermeneutics of faith is lacking, there necessarily arises a positivist or secularist hermeneutic, according to which the divine does not enter into human history".

  The third and final part includes propositions 38 to 54 on: "The Word of God in the Mission of the Church". It deals with such issues as the Word of God and liturgical art, and the translation and distribution of the Bible. These propositions also highlight the importance of the communications media for evangelisation and warn against the danger of a fundamentalist reading of the Bible and the phenomenon of sects.

  Other themes considered in this section include inter-religious dialogue, the promotion of pilgrimages, the study of Holy Scripture in the Holy Land, dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and the relationship between the Word and the protection of the environment.

  The Synod Fathers call for a strengthening of inter-religious dialogue and insist "that all believers be effectively guaranteed the liberty to profess their religion in private and in public, and that freedom of conscience be recognised". The prelates suggest that episcopal conferences should promote meetings and dialogue with Jews. On the subject of Muslims, they stress the "importance of respect for life, and of the rights of men and of women, as well as the distinction between the socio-political and the religious spheres in promoting justice and peace in the world. An important part of this dialogue will be reciprocity and freedom of conscience and religion", they say.

  In the final proposition, dedicated to the Virgin Mary model of the Church's faith, it is suggested that the faithful be further encouraged to pray the Angelus and the Rosary.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the Synod Fathers. The event marked the close of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which has been held in the Vatican from 5 to 26 October on the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church".

  In his homily, the Pope highlighted the importance of listening "to the Word and incarnating it in individual and community life.

  "In this Eucharistic celebration, which closes the work of the Synod", he added, "we are particularly aware of the bond that exists between loving reception of the Word of God and disinterested service towards our fellow man. How many times, in the past days, have we heard experiences and reflections which highlight the contemporary need to listen to God more intimately, to gain a truer knowledge of His Word of Salvation, a more sincere sharing of faith which is constantly nourished at the table of the Divine Word".

  After thanking all the participants, Benedict XVI made particular mention of the bishops of continental China, who were unable to attend the synodal assembly. "I would like", he said, "to thank God for their love for Christ, their communion with the universal Church and their faithfulness to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. They are present in our prayers, as are all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care. We ask the 'Chief Shepherd' to give them apostolic joy, strength, and zeal to guide, with wisdom and far-sightedness, the Catholic community of China so dear to us all".

  The Pope went on: "All of us who have taken part in the work of the Synod will carry with us the renewed knowledge that the Church's principal task, at the start of this new millennium, is above all to nourish herself on the Word of God in order to make new evangelisation more effective. What is needed now is that this ecclesial experience be brought to every community. We have to understand the necessity of translating the Word we have heard into gestures of love, because this is the only way to make the announcement of the Gospel credible, despite the human weaknesses that mark individuals. What this requires first of all is a more intimate knowledge of Christ and meek acceptance of His Word.

  "In this Pauline year, making our own the words of the Apostle ('Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel'), I hope with all my heart that in every community this yearning of Paul's will be felt with ever more conviction, as a vocation in the service of the Gospel for the world. ... So many people are searching, sometimes unwittingly, for the meeting with Christ and His Gospel; so many need to find a meaning to their lives in Him.

  After highlighting the fact that "often the encounter with Scriptures is in danger of not being a 'Church event', but remains exposed to subjectivity and arbitrariness", the Pope noted the importance of a "robust and credible pastoral promotion of the knowledge of Holy Scripture, in order to announce, celebrate and live the Word in Christian communities, establishing a dialogue with the cultures of our time, placing ourselves at the service of truth and not of current ideologies, and increasing the dialogue that God wishes to have with all mankind". To this end, "special care should be paid to the preparation of pastors", and "ongoing efforts to give life to the biblical movement among lay people should be encouraged, along with the formation of group animators. ... We must also support efforts to transmit the faith through the Word of God to those who are 'far away', especially to those who are sincerely looking to give meaning to their lives", he said.

  "The privileged place where the Word of God resounds, the Word that builds the Church, is undoubtedly the liturgy. It is clear from the liturgy that the Bible is a book of a people and for a people. ... There is, therefore, a mutual relationship, a living bond, between the people and the Book. The Bible remains alive with the people who read it. The people cannot exist without the Book, because it is in it that they find their reason for living, their vocation and their identity. This mutual bond between people and Holy Scripture is celebrated at every liturgical gathering".

  Benedict XVI ended his homily by entrusting to the protection of the Virgin Mary the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in Rome in October of next year. He also announced his intention to travel to Cameroon in March 2009 to entrust the working document for that Synod to representatives of the episcopal conferences of Africa. "From there", he concluded, "God willing, I will go on to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelisation of that country".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  In his remarks before the Marian prayer, the Pope dwelt upon today's closure of the Synod of Bishops. "Each synodal assembly", he said, "is a powerful experience of ecclesial communion, this one even more so because attention was focused on what illuminates and guides the Church: the Word of God, which is Christ in person. ... In accordance with the original meaning of the term 'church', we experienced the joy of being called by the Word and, especially in the liturgy, found ourselves on the path ... which gives us a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven".

  The Holy Father commented on a question that gave rise to much reflection during the Synod: "the relationship between the Word and words, that is to say between the Divine Word and the scriptures that express it". Thus "good Biblical exegesis requires both historical critical and theological methodologies, because Holy Scripture is the Word of God in human words. This means that every text must be read and interpreted bearing in mind the unity of all Scripture, the living tradition of the Church and the light of faith.

  "If it is true", he added, "that the Bible is also a literary work, indeed the great codex of universal culture, it is also true that it must not be divested of its divine element, but must always be read in the same Spirit as that in which it was written. Therefore, scientific exegesis and 'lectio divina' are equally necessary and complementary for finding, through the literary and spiritual meaning, what God wishes to communicate to us today".

  The Holy Father then went on: "At the end of this synodal assembly, the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches made an appeal, which I make mine, to call the attention of the international community, religious leaders and all men and women of good will to the ongoing tragedy in certain Eastern countries, where Christians are the victims of intolerance and cruel violence: killed, threatened and forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. At this time I am thinking above all about Iraq and India. I am certain that the ancient and noble populations of these nations have learnt, over the course of centuries of respectful coexistence, to appreciate the contribution the small but dutiful Christian minorities make to the development of the shared homeland. They do not ask for privileges, but only wish to be allowed to continue to live in their country together with their fellow citizens, as they have always done.

  "I ask civil and religious authorities to spare no efforts to ensure that legality and civil coexistence be soon restored, and that honest and loyal citizens may know that they can count on adequate protection from State institutions. I also hope that civil and religious leaders from all nations, aware of their role as guide and example to their peoples, take meaningful and explicit actions of friendship and consideration towards minorities, Christian or others, and make it a point of honour to come to the defence of their legitimate human rights".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Cristina Castaner-Ponce Enrile, the new ambassador of the Philippines to the Holy See. In his English-language address to her he recalled how "the Filipino people are renowned for their warm generosity and the high value they place on friendship and family life". He also expressed his thanks for "the unique contribution they have made and continue to make to the life of the local and universal Church", encouraging them to continue "to devote themselves to forging bonds of peace and social harmony within your borders and across the globe.

  "For its part, and in a special way through its diplomatic activity, the Holy See seeks to engage the world in dialogue so as to promote universal values ... and advance mankind on the road to communion with God and one another. The Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel's social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfilment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State.

  "Indeed", he added, "we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions. The Church is equally convinced that State and religion are called to support each other as they together serve the personal and social wellbeing of all. ... By cultivating a spirit of honesty and impartiality, and by keeping justice their aim, civil and ecclesial leaders earn the trust of the people and enhance a sense of the shared responsibility of all citizens to promote a civilisation of love".

  The Holy Father then went on to refer to the Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, held recently in Manila. "Initiatives such as this", he said, "are fruitful when they recognise immigration as a resource for development rather than as an obstacle to it. ... Domestic and international policies aimed at regulating immigration must be based on criteria of equity and balance, and particular care is needed to facilitate the reunification of families. At the same time, conditions that foster increased work opportunities in peoples' places of origin are to be promoted".

  In this context, Pope Benedict recalled how political leaders in the Philippines "have passed legislation for comprehensive land reform with the aim of improving the living conditions of the poor". Such measures "can benefit a society by instilling a sense of common responsibility and stimulating individual initiative, making it possible for a nation both to feed its own and expand its participation in international markets. ... I pray that by implementing measures that foster the just distribution of wealth and the sustainable development of natural resources, Filipino farmers will be granted greater opportunities for increasing production and earning what they need to support themselves and their families".

  Finally, the Pope spoke of his happiness at seeing the Philippines "participate actively in international forums for the advancement of peace, human solidarity and inter-religious dialogue. ... In light of the Gospel, the Catholic Church has always been convinced that the transition from less humane to more humane conditions is not limited to merely economic or technological dimensions, but implies for each person the acquisition of culture, respect for the life and dignity of others, and acknowledgement of 'the highest good, ... God Himself, the author and end of these blessings'".


VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, U.S.A.

 - Bishop Jesus Esteban Sadaba Perez O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Aguarico, Ecuador, on his "ad limina" visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2008 (VIS) - During the Twenty-Third and final General Congregation, which took place this morning in the Synod Hall, a vote was held on the final list of propositions which will be delivered to the Holy Father to consider as he is preparing the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

  At 1 p.m., participants in the synodal assembly attended a lunch in their honour given by the Holy Father in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon during the Twenty-Second General Congregation, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, announced the names of the 12 elected members of the Twelfth Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, and of the 3 members appointed by the Holy Father:

 - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 - Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
 - Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa and president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras.
 - Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, and president of the Association of West African Episcopal Conferences.
 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada.
 - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China.
 - Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
 - Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, president of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 - Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B. of Guwahati, India.
 - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland.
 - Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn, Australia.
 - Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
 - Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu of Cluj-Gherla, Romania.
 - Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Imus, Philippines.

  The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops then announced that the Holy Father will present a facsimile of the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV to each of the participants in the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the conclusion of their work.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, patriarchs and archbishops from Eastern Catholic churches who are participating in the current meeting of the Synod of Bishops, delivered an appeal to the Holy Father "in favour of our brothers and sisters of the East", in which they ask for "the confirmation of all attempts being made to favour peace, freedom and truth in love".

  In the text of the appeal, which appeared on the pages of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper, the prelates write: "Our hearts are moved by the suffering of so many of our sons and daughters of the East. Children and youth, people in extreme difficulty because of their age, health or essential spiritual and material needs; families perennially tempted to despair over the present and the future. We feel it our duty to voice their justifiable hopes that everyone may soon be guaranteed a dignified life, in fruitful social coexistence.

  "Peace is the work of justice! This is an imperative we cannot ignore. We ask, then, for peace in justice, of which real religious freedom is a guarantee, and especially for the Holy Land which was the birthplace of Christ the Redeemer, for Lebanon, Iraq and India.

  "We remain close to people suffering for their Christian faith and to all believers prevented from professing their religion. We pay homage to Christians who have recently lost their lives for faithfulness to the Lord".

  "Before the Pope and the Synod Fathers, encouraged by their fraternity, we present this urgent request: to Christians and all men and women of good will, demonstrate respect and acceptance of others in daily life, drawing close to all those in need, at home and far away; to pastors and religious leaders, preach and support such an attitude by sustaining and increasing initiatives of mutual understanding, dialogue and assistance; to the international community and politicians, guarantee true religious freedom at a legislative level, by overcoming all discrimination and helping those who are forced to leave their own land for religious reasons".
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Friday, October 24, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2008 (VIS) - During this morning's Twenty-First General Congregation, the Synod Fathers voted on the Final Message of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which has as its theme: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church". The president delegate on duty was Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  Given below are extracts taken from the Italian-language summary of the Message:

  "There are four main points we wish to call to the attention of the People of God and which we will express using four images": the Voice, the Face, the House and the Road of the Word.

  "The divine Voice ... sounds out at the origin of creation, ... giving rise to the wonders of the universe. It is a Voice that penetrates into history, a history lacerated by human sin and troubled by suffering and death. ... It is a Voice that descends into the pages of the Sacred Scripture which we now read in the Church with the guidance of the Holy Spirit".

  "The Face is Jesus Christ Who is Son of the eternal and infinite God, but also a mortal man, linked to a historical period, to a people, to a land".

  "It is He who reveals to us the 'complete and unitary' meaning of Sacred Scripture, and hence Christianity is a religion that has at its heart a person, Jesus Christ, Who reveals the Father. It is He Who enables us to understand that the Scriptures are 'flesh'".

  "The House of the Divine Word ... is the Church, which as St. Luke says is supported on four columns: (1) 'teaching', in other words reading and understanding the Bible in its announcement to everyone; (2) the 'breaking of bread', in other words the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church, ... the faithful are invited to nourish themselves in the liturgy at the table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ; (3) 'prayer' ... the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture that may lead - in meditation, prayer and contemplation - to the meeting with Christ, Word of the living God; (4) 'fraternal communion', because to be true Christians it is not enough to be 'those who hear the word of God' but also those 'who do it'".

  "The last image of this spiritual map is the Road upon which the Word of God travels. ... The Word of God must travel the roads of the world, which today also include those of electronic, televisual and virtual communication. The Bible must enter into families ... schools and all cultural environments. ... Its symbolic, poetic and narrative richness makes it a sign of beauty, both for the faith and for culture itself, in a world often disfigured by ugliness and brutality.

  "The Bible, however, also presents the breath of suffering that arises from the earth, it reaches out to the cry of the oppressed and to the laments of forlorn. At its summit is the cross where Christ, alone and abandoned, experienced the tragedy of atrocious suffering and death. Precisely because of this presence of the Son of God, the darkness of evil and death is irradiated with Paschal light and with hope of glory. ... Along the roads of the world we often meet men and women of other religions who listen to and faithfully practice the dictates of their own holy books and who with us can build a world of peace and light".

  "'We commend you to God and to the message of His grace'. With the same expression as that used by St. Paul in his farewell address to the leaders of the Church in Ephesus, we Synod Fathers commend the faithful of the communities scattered across the face of the earth to the Divine Word, which is also judgement but, above all, grace".

  During this afternoon's Twenty-Second General Congregation, the presentation of the amended propositions is due to take place.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal S.V.D. of Jhabua, India, as bishop of Indore (area 19,073, population 4,648,689, Catholics 35,803, priests 79, religious 399), India. He succeeds Bishop George M. Anathil S.V.D., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop George Panikulam, apostolic nuncio to Mozambique, as apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia and apostolic delegate to Somalia.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2008 (VIS) - No General Congregation will be held today. Instead, this morning and this afternoon, the relator general of the Synod, with the special secretary and the relators of the language groups, will study the collective amendments to the Synod Fathers' propositions.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., in the Pope's name, to Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires, for a celebration held in the Argentinean capital's Pontifical Catholic University on 16 October to mark the 30th anniversary of John Paul II's mediation between Argentina and Chile.

  The cardinal recalls that the reason for the celebration is "to recall the pontifical mediation that helped resolve a controversy which was running the risk of turning into a conflict, and to reflect upon the fruits of peace which matured then and have lasted to our own time".

  "The recollection of the events of the 30 years ago is indissolubly linked to the beloved figure of Pope John Paul II and to the outstanding work of his special delegate Cardinal Antonio Samore, both highly committed to the search for peace and harmony between the people of Argentina and Chile who have been united for centuries by firm bonds of faith and solidarity", the Message reads.

  The secretary of State also mentions Cardinal Agostino Casaroli and his collaborators who, "after the death of Cardinal Samore, continued the mediation efforts, until the signing of a joint declaration of peace and friendship in the Vatican on 23 January 1984. It was an admirable example of building peace by the principal and ever-relevant method of dialogue, which aims not at the supremacy of power or interest, but at affirming impartial and solidary justice, the sure and stable foundation for coexistence among peoples".

  This mediation, the Message continues, "still stands as an example to call to the international community's attention because, apart from the patience and sense of responsibility of the parties involved, it shows how in all controversies dialogue does not prejudice rights, rather it broadens the field of reasonable possibilities for solving differences".

  "Thus it is necessary to continue using diplomacy and its methods of negotiation, which draw strength from people's moral resources giving them the confidence to guarantee peace, security and wellbeing. The new generation, bearing in mind the lessons of ancient and modern history, are called to look to the future with eyes of hope and to commit themselves to building the civilisation of love, of which John Paul II was prophet, though not always heard".


VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis E. George O.M.I., Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Msgr. David Malloy, respectively president, vice-president and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 - Archbishop Charles Maung Bo S.D.B. of Yangon, Myanmar, on his "ad limina" visit.

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

    - Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Dutari S.J. of Ibarra.

    - Bishop Nestor Rafael Herrera Heredia of Machala.

    - Bishop Manuel Valarezo Luzuriaga O.F.M. apostolic prefect of Galapagos.

    - Bishop Rafael Cob Garcia, apostolic vicar of Puyo.

  On 22 October he received in audience Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Synod Father met in language groups to continue preparing the collective amendments to the more than 50 propositions that have been made.

  This afternoon the meetings of the language groups are scheduled to continue. At the end of the afternoon session the propositions will be delivered to the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI proceeded with his series of catecheses on St. Paul, focusing on the Apostle of the Gentile's teaching on "the central role of the Risen Christ in the mystery of salvation". The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by 17,000 people.

  For Paul, the Pope explained, Christ "is the principle for understanding the world and discovering the path of history". The Apostle of the Gentiles, said the Holy Father "was not concerned with narrating the individual episodes of Jesus' life" because "his pastoral and theological intention, which sought to sustain the nascent communities, concentrated above all on announcing Jesus Christ as the 'Lord', living and present, now among His people".

  The essential characteristic of Pauline Christology, said Benedict XVI, apart from announcing the living Christ, is "announcing the central fact of ... the death and resurrection of Jesus as the culmination of His earthly journey and as the root of the subsequent development of all Christian faith, of all the reality of the Church. For the Apostle, the Resurrection is not some isolated event, separate from His death: the Risen Christ is always same Christ Who before was crucified".

  "The Apostle contemplates in fascination the secret hidden in the Crucifixion-Resurrection and, through the suffering Christ experienced in His humanity, is led back to the eternal existence in which Christ is one with the Father". However, to understand Paul's thought on "pre-existence and ... the incarnation of Christ" we need to know "certain Old Testament texts which highlight the role of Wisdom before the creation of the world, ... such as those that speak of creative Wisdom".

  "These texts ... also speak of the descent of Wisdom which pitched its tent among us" as a premonition of "the tent of flesh" mentioned by St John the Evangelist. "But this descent of Wisdom ... implies the possibility of its being rejected", and St. Paul makes it clear that "Christ, like Wisdom, can be rejected, above all by those who dominate this world, so that in God's plan a paradoxical situation may be created in which ... the Cross ... is transformed into the way of salvation for all humankind".

  In his Letter to the Philippians Paul "further develops this idea of Wisdom which descends to be exalted despite its rejection. ... The gesture of the Son of God is the opposite of pride, it is a gesture of humility which is the realisation of love, and love is divine. Hence Christ's descent, the radical humility with which He contrasts human pride, truly is an expression of divine love, and it is followed by that elevation to heaven to which God draws us".

  In the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians, Christ is described as "firstborn". This, the Pope explained, means that "the first among many children ... came down to make us His brothers and sisters".

  Finally, in the Letter to the Ephesians the Apostle considers "the divine plan of salvation", saying that "in Christ God wished to recapitulate all things. ... Christ reassumes all things and guides us to God. Thus He involves us in a movement of descent and ascension, inviting us to share in His humility, in other words His love for others and, hence, His glorification".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany, presented the first volume of the "Opera omina" of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, published in German by the publishing house Herder Verlag.

  Also participating in the press conference were Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the management board of the Vatican Publishing House, and Fr. Giuseppe Costa S.D.B., director of the same institution.

  Bishop Muller affirmed that "Benedict XVI, during the lengthy course of his academic activities as professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology, produced an autonomous theological 'opus' which without doubt places him among the most important scholars of the 20th and 21st centuries. For more than 50 years, the name of Joseph Ratzinger has been linked to an original overview of systematic theology".

  "In his academic work, Benedict XVI has always drawn from his admirable knowledge of the history of theology and dogma, with which he enlightens others by highlighting the divine vision of man upon which everything rests".

  The bishop of Regensburg indicated that the Pope had ordered the publication of his works in 16 volumes. "In order to put this project into effect", he said, "I founded the 'Pope Benedict XVI Institute' in Regensburg. This will house complete documentation on the life, thought and work of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, theologian, bishop and pontiff".

  "The aim is to produce as complete as possible a presentation of already-published works, integrated with other texts either unpublished or not yet available in German, following a systematic order which creates a link between chronology and subject matter".

  Going on to describe the 16 volumes, Bishop Muller indicated that they begin with two university theses by the future Pope: his graduation thesis on the Augustinian doctrine of the Church, and his teaching degree thesis on Bonaventure's doctrine of the Revelation.

  Volume three "takes as its starting point the inaugural lecture of Professor Ratzinger: 'The God of the Faith and the God of the Philosophers', given in Bonn in 1959", and includes all his reflections on the historical-ideal foundations of Europe.

  Volume four, Bishop Muller explained, "begins with the 'Introduction to Christianity' of 1968, ... while volume six opens with the book 'Jesus of Nazareth' (2007) and brings together all his studies on the subject of Christology".

  Volume thirteen "is a collection of the many interviews given by Joseph Ratzinger" and volume fourteen presents a selection of his "many homilies, including little-known and meditations unpublished until now".

  As for the last two volumes, number fifteen is dedicated to the autobiography of Joseph Ratzinger which appeared in 1997/1998 with the title of "My Life", and his many declarations concerning such people as his predecessor John Paul II or his brother Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, as well as many other addresses delivered during Jubilee Years, etc. Volume sixteen contains a complete bibliography of Joseph Ratzinger's works in German, and an index to all the volumes.


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Francisco Antonio Nieto Sua of the clergy of the archdiocese of Bogota, Colombia, episcopal vicar for the pastoral zone of "Espiritu Santo", as bishop of the same archdiocese (area 4,019, population 4,253,000, Catholics 3,645,000, priests 725, permanent deacons 58, religious 2,920). The bishop-elect was born in Panqueba, Colombia in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1973.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2008 (VIS) - During the Twentieth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the unified list of propositions was presented. The list will be given to the Holy Father to consider as he is preparing the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

  The Synod Fathers also participated in the second vote to elect members to the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod.

  At the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat is formed. The Council is comprised of 15 Members; 12 of whom are elected from the Synod, taking into account the representation of bishops throughout the world, and three designated by the Roman Pontiff.

  The Bishops elected to the Council of the General Secretariat retain their office until the beginning of a new Ordinary General Assembly.

  This afternoon the Synod Fathers will meet in language groups to prepare the collective amendments to the propositions.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine, presented by Cardinal Marian Jaworski, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki.
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Monday, October 20, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2008 (VIS) - During yesterday morning's Eighteenth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the various language groups presented their reports. Yesterday the Vatican Information Service published extracts from the only two reports then available.

  Extracts from five other reports presented during yesterday's session are given below:

GERMAN LANGUAGE GROUP: BISHOP FRIEDHELM HOFMANN OF WURZBURG, GERMANY. "In some of the interventions presented in the Synod Hall, there seemed to be a certain fear of historical-critical methods. This threatens to diminish the merits and fruits of scientific exegesis. Spiritual exegesis, founded on 'lectio divina' in the context of the liturgy of the Church community, itself requires the premise of scientific exegesis. Furthermore, it is essential to separate the fundamentalist reading of the Bible from modernist trends which run the risk of ideological demystification. Both these attitudes contradict the 'sensum ecclesiae'. ... As for spread of Pentecostalism and other sects, we must ask what is the reason behind their success. This is a challenge for the Church's pastoral ministry towards so-called 'baptised catechumens'. ... The laity must be formed in a suitable and authoritative way for their important task of proclaiming the Word. The role of the family is very important for initiation into the reading of Scripture and at the same time into its reading in communion. ... We further asked ourselves if, in a secularised world where people are nostalgic for the truth, the Church should not be more decisive in her approach to agnostics. ... When it is impossible to celebrate the Eucharist, and in its place the Word of God is celebrated, this should not be considered as a lesser replacement, rather it needs to be considered in its intrinsic worth as the encounter with the Lord, manifested in His Word. ... Holy Scripture represents not only the starting point for ecumenism, but also an important place for encounter with other Christian confessions".

SPANISH LANGUAGE GROUP A: FR. JULIAN CARRON, PRESIDENT OF THE COMMUNION AND LIBERATION ASSOCIATION. "We note a limited familiarity with the Old Testament among Catholics, even a certain degree of embarrassment and resistance in the face of difficult passages, the most controversial questions being divine and human violence, the amorality of certain biblical figures and insufficient theology concerning the afterworld. Therefore, adequate biblical formation should be offered to the faithful, not only to help them understand the Old Testament texts in their historical and literary context but, above all, to facilitate their Christian reading as the main hermeneutic key, because these texts acquire and reveal their full meaning in the New Testament. ... The task of announcing Christ is the responsibility of each baptised person. In addition to the homily, which is the form of preaching specific to liturgical celebrations, it is necessary to recall the value of the preaching by all Christians in the light of Baptism and Confirmation. ... We are deeply concerned about the influence sects and new religious groups have on the Catholic faithful, an influence that sometimes even brings them to abandon the Church. ... Greater studies on sects and new examples of this phenomenon would be of great help to face up to it properly. ... In relations with Islam and in dialogue with its representatives, its concept of socio-political and judicial order (not always duly differentiated from religious order) should be kept in mind, as should its concept of marriage and the family, in which the role and rights of women are not treated as envisaged in the doctrine of the fundamental rights of mankind and of the family, or as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

ITALIAN LANGUAGE GROUP A: ARCHBISHOP SALVATORE FISICHELLA, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE. "The Synod shows that the Word of God cannot only be identified with the Bible. The Word of God is Christ, the Word of the Father. ... The announcement of the Word of God is the first duty of the Church. An explicit announcement, always and everywhere, accompanied by a coherent testimony of life that renders evident the content and reinforces it. ... It was felt necessary to observe that, in a generalised context of secularisation reaching far beyond Western countries, particular attention be paid, above all, to creating forms of listening, so that whoever approaches Sacred Scripture knows they are before God Who speaks. ... We underlined the importance of permanent education, especially of catechists, so as to overcome the major obstacle of a lack of knowledge of the basic contents of faith. ... It is necessary to bridge the gap between Bible and liturgy, Word and Sacrament. This is achieved in the extent to which we reinforce the idea that the Word of God is Christ Himself in His differentiated presence in the life of His Church; above all in the real presence of the Eucharistic sacrifice, and when the Sacraments are celebrated. ... What has to grow, therefore, is awareness of a profound unity that reaches its peak in the Eucharist".

ENGLISH LANGUAGE GROUP B: BISHOP GERALD FREDERICK KICANAS OF TUCSON, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS. "The group suggested that the tone of the exhortation should be hope-filled, needs to energise the Church around the Word of God and should be pastoral and missionary. The group identified critical areas about which propositions should be developed. A wide range of areas surfaced. First the need to give greater recognition to lay catechists, Catholic school teachers, youth ministers, and lay biblical animators.. ... Second the need to understand what is attracting people to the sects and learn from them. Third how preaching might be improved and made more vibrant. Fourth the need to emphasise and highlight the contemplative dimension. Fifth, finding structures to bring together exegetes, liturgists, theologians, and bishops. Sixth, the need to give greater emphasis to consecrated life, pneumatology, healing and the Sacrament of Penance, and the use of media. ... The dialogic nature of the Word of God needs greater emphasis. ... There is a need to better form people in the Word. ... There was a mixed reaction to a compendium on preaching, ... suggestion was made for a compendium on helping people read the Word of God. There was not a strong feeling that there needs to be a revision of the lectionary. ... Finally, the group explored relations with other Christians and with Jews. Concern was raised that Jews sometimes feel that Catholics downplay their positions for dialogue. ... Bringing the experience of the Synod to other Christian churches might foster communion".

FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP B: BISHOP JOSEPH LUC ANDRE BOUCHARD, OF SAINT PAUL IN ALBERTA, CANADA. "A word on the 'Relatio': If we can express a hope in the post-synodal exhortation: may it have as its common trait a text from the Holy Scriptures. ... We must renew the relevance of 'Dei Verbum' but in today's context, evoking some problems that have yet to be resolved (for example, the debate on the 'Book', fundamentalism, personal interpretation, interpretation 'cum Ecclesia'). ... As pertains to the institutional propositions: ... One should not think about a congress specifically for the Word of God, but insist on the value of the scriptural aspect in already existing congresses. ... Could we think about a renewal in the ministry of the lectorate, or a mandate for readers that is adapted to the extraordinary ministers of communion? ... On the homily: ... The community one addresses should be known , knowing full well that the homily is a call to conversion, for the preacher, and for the assembly. Catechesis: We would like to underline the work of the catechists - and the majority of catechists are women who play an important role in the transmission of the Word of God. ... As to the formation of priests: First of all, all formation in the seminary must be based on the Word of God. ... The pedagogical method should be reviewed".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning, during the Nineteenth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, a first vote was held to elect members to the post-synodal council, and the draft of the final Message was presented and discussed. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

  This afternoon the Holy Father and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople will preside at a celebration of the Word in the Sistine Chapel, after which each of them will deliver an address on the theme of the Word of God.

  No General Congregations are scheduled for Sunday or Monday. The relator general, the special secretary and the relators of the language groups will meet to unify the proposals presented by the Synod Fathers.
SE/NINETEENTH CONGREGATION/...                VIS 20081020 (140)


VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In the Sistine Chapel at 5 p.m. today, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of first Vespers of the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, marking the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in the work of the current Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

  The ceremony, which was attended by more than 400 cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay people, began with a few brief words of introduction by Benedict XVI.

  In his English-language talk, Bartholomew I highlighted how this "is the first time in history that an Ecumenical Patriarch is offered the opportunity to address a Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and thus be 'part of the life' of this sister Church at such a high level. We regard this as a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit leading our Churches to a closer and deeper relationship with each other, an important step towards the restoration of our full communion".

  "It is well known that the Orthodox Church attaches to the synod system fundamental ecclesiological importance. Together with primacy, synodality constitutes the backbone of the Church's government and organization. ... Therefore, in having today the privilege to address your Synod our hopes are raised that the day will come when our two Churches will fully converge on the role of primacy and synodality in the Church's life, to which our joint theological commission is devoting its study at the present time".

  "We have explored", he concluded, "the patristic teaching of the spiritual senses, discerning the power of hearing and speaking God's Word in Scripture, of seeing God's Word in icons and nature, as well as of touching and sharing God's Word in the saints and sacraments. Yet, in order to remain true to the life and mission of the Church, we must personally be changed by this Word. The Church must resemble the mother, who is both sustained by and nourishes through the food she eats. Anything that does not feed and nourish everyone cannot sustain us either. When the world does not share the joy of Christ's Resurrection, this is an indictment of our own integrity and commitment to the living Word of God".

  Following the Patriarch's talk, the Pope thanked him for his words assuring him they would be studied and examined by the Synod. "This too was a joyful experience", he said, "an experience of unity, perhaps not perfect but real and profound. I thought to myself: your Fathers, whom you quoted widely, are also our Fathers and ours are also yours. And if we have shared Fathers how can we not be brothers?"
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VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Yvon Moreau O.C.S.O., abbot of the Trappist monastery of Oka, Canada, as bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere (area 9,623, population 91,948, Catholics 89,778, priests 83, permanent deacons 7, religious 161), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Saint-Pascal-de-Kamouraska, Canada in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1968. He succeeds Bishop Clement Fecteau, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2008 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today the Pope travelled by helicopter to Pompeii in Southern Italy. There he celebrated Mass in the square of the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary at 10.30 a.m. and, in the afternoon, led the praying of the Rosary.

  Addressing his homily to 50,000 faithful, the Holy Father said that he had come on a pastoral visit to Pompeii "especially to entrust the assembly of the Synod of Bishops taking place in the Vatican to the Mother of God".

  Commenting on today's readings of the Mass, Benedict XVI emphasised "the wonderful expression by Zephaniah who, addressing Jerusalem, says: the Lord 'will renew you in His love'. Yes, the love of God has this power: to renew all things beginning with the human heart, which constitutes His work of art where the Holy Spirit best accomplishes His transformative action.

  "With His grace," the Pope added, "God renews human beings' hearts, forgiving our sins, reconciling us to Him, and infusing in us the strength to do good. All this becomes apparent in the lives of the saints and we see it in particular in the apostolic work of Blessed Bartolo Longo, the founder of the new Pompeii".

  Referring to the second reading taken from the Letter to the Romans in which St. Paul "exhorts love", the Pope said that "these pages delineate a programme for the life of a Christian community, whose members have been renewed by love and who continually strive to renew themselves in order to discern the will of God and not to fall into the conformity of a worldly mentality".

  "The characteristic of Christian civilisation," he added, "is charity: God's love that is translated into love of others".

  Speaking of Blessed Bartolo Longo, the Holy Father stressed "his numerous charitable initiatives for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. Incited by love, he had the capacity to project a new city that arose around the Marian shrine like an emanation of his own light of faith and hope. A Marian citadel of charity … was founded here in this valley, rescuing and promoting it. Thanks to God the history of the Church is full of experiences like this. … They are experiences of fraternity that show the face of a different society, like leaven in a social context. The strength of charity is irresistible: it is love that truly carries the world forward"!

  The Pope highlighted the fact that Blessed Longo, like St. Paul, "from being a persecutor of the Church became an apostle", because "he had moved away from the Christian faith, becoming militantly anticlerical and even participating in spiritualist and superstitious practices. … With his personal conversion he bore witness to a great spiritual force that transforms us from within, making us capable of carrying out great things according to God's plan".

  "Pompeii", emphasised the Holy Father, "is an example of how faith can work in the city of man, creating apostles of charity who place themselves at the service of the weak and the poor, and who work to that even the weakest may be respected in their dignity and find acceptance and support. Here in Pompeii it is evident that the love of God and neighbour are inseparable. … Here, at Mary's feet, families come to find or to fortify the happiness of love that keeps them united".

  At the end of the homily the Pope highlighted the importance of praying the Rosary: "It is a contemplative prayer that is accessible to all: large and small, laity and clergy, the learned and the uneducated. It is the spiritual bond with Mary that allows us to remain united to Jesus, to conform ourselves to Him, to assimilate His feelings, and to act as He acted. The rosary is a spiritual 'weapon' in the fight against evil and all violence, for peace in our hearts, our families, our society, and our world".

  At the end of Mass and before praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI led the Supplication to the Virgin of the Rosary written by Blessed Longo in 1883, which is traditionally prayed on the first Sunday of October.
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