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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Thursday, May 31, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass on the square in front of Rome's St. John Lateran Basilica. Following this he will preside at the traditional Eucharistic procession from the basilica, along Via Merulana, to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

 - Five prelates from the Central African Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Agostino Delfino O.F.M. Cap., of Berberati.

    - Bishop Francois-Xavier Yombandje of Bassangoa.

    - Bishop Armando Umberto Gianni O.F.M. Cap., of Bouar.

    - Bishop Albert Vanbuel S.D.B., of Kaga-Bandoro.

    - Bishop Guerrino Perin M.C.C.I., of Mbaiki.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Phillip Pollitzer O.M.I., provincial for Namibia of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, as bishop of Keetmanshoop (area 264,110, population 142,000, Catholics 39,400, priests 25, permanent deacons 9, religious 46), Namibia. The bishop-elect was born in Mortelsdorf, Austria in 1940 and ordained a priest in 1965.

 - Appointed Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas of Villavicencio, Colombia as vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2007 (VIS) - A communique made public today announced that the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "being desirous of promoting bonds of mutual friendship and of strengthening international cooperation, have decided by common accord to establish diplomatic relations at the level of apostolic nunciature on the part of the Holy See and at the ambassadorial level on the part of the United Arab Emirates, conforming to the rules fixed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961."

  The joint communique states that the agreement was signed on the part of the Holy See by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, and for the United Arab Emirates by Abdulaziz Nasser Al-Shamsi, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the UAE to the United Nations.

  A note attached to the communique recalls that the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven independent emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Al-Fujayrah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain) located along the central-eastern coast of the Arab peninsula, and has Abu Dhabi as its capital city. It has a surface area of 83,600 square kilometers and a population of more than four million including a large percentage (more than 70 percent) of foreign workers, mostly from other Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan, India, Philippines and Bangladesh. The official language is Arabic.

  The majority of UAE citizens is Muslim, which is the official religion of State. "The constitution," the note reads, "affirms the principle of religious freedom and Christians are able to perform their public religious activities in churches and parish centers."

  The United Arab Emirates forms part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia which is under the pastoral care of Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap. and has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. "According to reliable estimates," the note continues, "there are more than a million Christians, mostly Catholics, of more than a hundred nationalities who contribute to the social wellbeing of the nation. There are seven churches in the country where Mass is celebrated in various languages and rites. The expectation exists that  the authorities, who maintain cordial relations with the Catholic Church, will approve the building of new centers of worship. Various religious congregations offer educational services in seven schools."
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2007 (VIS) - In his general audience today Benedict XVI resumed his series of catecheses on leading figures of the early Church, turning his attention to Tertullian, the first great Christian author to write in Latin who was born in Carthage around the year 150. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 32,000 faithful.

  The work of this North African writer, said the Pope, "yielded vital fruits that it would be inexcusable to undervalue." His influence extended "from language and the recovery of classical culture to the identification of a shared 'Christian soul' in the world and the formulation of new prospects for human coexistence."

  Tertullian "converted to Christianity attracted, it seems, by the example of the martyrs. ... However, an overly individual search for the truth as well as the intemperance of his character gradually led him to abandon communion with the Church."

  In his apologetic writings Tertullian set himself two objectives: "confuting the terrible accusations made by pagans against the new religion and, in a more constructive and missionary sense, communicating the Gospel message in dialogue with the culture of his time."

  Tertullian also "made a significant contribution to the development of Trinitarian dogma," said the Pope. "Using Latin he gave us a language appropriate for expressing this great mystery, introducing the terms 'one substance' and 'three Persons'."

  "No less important," the Pope added, "is Tertullian's Christology," as well as his writings "on the Holy Spirit, ... on the Church (which he always recognizes as mother), ... on the moral conduct of Christians and on the life to come, ... on Mary, ... on the Sacraments, ... on the Petrine primacy and on prayer."

  Pope Benedict went on: "In particular this apologist exhorted Christians to hope, which according to his writings is not just a virtue in itself but something that invests every aspect of Christian life. Thus the resurrection of the Lord is presented as the foundation for our own future resurrection and represents the principal object of Christians' expectations."

  Benedict XVI then went on to consider the "drama" of Tertullian's life. "With the passing of the years he became ever more demanding towards Christians expecting them to behave heroically in all circumstances and especially during persecution."

  Commenting on the writer's eventual break with the Church, the Pope said: "I often think of this great moral and intellectual figure, this man who made such a great contribution to Christian thought. It is clear that in the end he lacked the simplicity and humility to be part of the Church, to accept her weaknesses. When one sees only one's own ideas, in all their greatness, in the end it is precisely this greatness that is lost. The essential characteristic of great theologians is the humility to remain with the Church, to accept her weaknesses and their own, because only God is truly holy. We, on the other hand, always have need of forgiveness."

  Nonetheless Tertullian "remains an interesting witness of the early Church, when Christians found themselves as the real protagonists of 'new culture' in the encounter between classical heritage and the evangelical message." His work "evokes the perennial continuity between authentic human values and Christian values." Another important affirmation of Tertullian is that "Christians cannot hate even their own enemies" from which arises the "ineluctable moral consequence" that non violence is "a rule of life. And the dramatic pertinence of this teaching," the Pope concluded, "is also evident in the light of the animated debate over religions."

  At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims from Spain, Mexico and Chile, particularly the Association of Knights and Dames of Our Lady of Guadalupe, accompanied by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, and faithful and bishops from dioceses in the Spanish region of Extremadura, who have come to Rome to mark the first centenary of the declaration of Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of Extremadura.

  "May the image of the Most Holy Virgin that you bring to Rome today," said Benedict XVI, "continue to accompany your jubilee celebrations and bless all of that Spanish region which had such an active role in the evangelization of America."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Joao Bosco Oliver de Faria of Patos de Minas as metropolitan archbishop of Diamantina (area 45,171, population 488,000, Catholics 431,748, priests 61, permanent deacons 1, religious 72), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Sao Joao del Rei, Brazil in 1939 he was ordained a priest in 1968, and consecrated a bishop in 1987. He succeeds Archbishop Paulo Lopes de Faria, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Irineu Roque Scherer of Garanhuns, Brazil as bishop of Joinville (area 9,119, population 986,000, Catholics 641,000, priests 93, permanent deacons 29, religious 329), Brazil.

 - Appointed Fr. Alick Banda, chancellor of the diocese of Ndola, Zambia and professor of canon law in various ecclesiastical institutes in Zambia, as bishop of Solwezi (area 125,826, population 750,000, Catholics 70,400, priests 37, religious 51), Zambia. The bishop-elect was born in Ndola in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1994.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for 81st World Mission Day which this year is due to be celebrated on Sunday October 21 on the theme: "All the Churches for all the world."

  In the Message, dated May 27, Solemnity of Pentecost, the Pope recalls the fact that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Servant of God Pius XII's Encyclical "Fidei donum," which "promoted and encouraged cooperation between Churches for the mission 'ad gentes'."

  The theme of this year's Day, the Pope writes, "invites local Churches on all continents to a joint awareness of the urgent need to relaunch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time."

  Benedict XVI highlights how the Lord continues to call "the Churches of ancient tradition which, in the past, have supplied the missions not only with material resources but also with consistent numbers of priests, religious and lay people, thus engendering effective cooperation between Christian communities."

  Faced with "the secularized culture, ... the crisis of the family, the drop in vocations and the progressive aging of the clergy, these Churches run the task of closing in on themselves, of looking to the future with reduced hope and of lessening their missionary efforts. Yet this is precisely the moment to open trustingly to the Providence of God, Who never abandons His people and Who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, guides them towards the accomplishment of His eternal plan of salvation.

  "The Good Shepherd also invites Churches of recent evangelization to dedicate themselves generously to the 'missio ad gentes'," the Holy Father adds, noting how some of these Churches, though beset by many local needs, still manage to send priests and religious elsewhere, "even to the lands of ancient evangelization." Thus, the Pope continues, "we witness a providential 'exchange of gifts' which benefits the entire mystical Body of Christ."

  Pope Benedict expresses the hope that "missionary cooperation may intensify, making full use of everyone's potentials and charism," and that "World Mission Day may contribute to making Christian communities and all the baptized ever more aware of the universal nature of Christ's call to propagate His kingdom unto the ends of the earth."

  "Missionary commitment, then, remains ... the Church's primary service to humanity today, in order to guide and evangelize cultural, social and ethical transformations, and to offer Christ's salvation to modern mankind, humiliated and oppressed in so many parts of the world because of endemic poverty, violence, and the systematic negation of human rights."

  The Pope goes on to render thanks to God "for the abundant fruits" of "missionary cooperation in Africa and in other regions of the earth." He also mentions the many priests "who have dedicated their apostolic energies to serving newly-created communities in poor and developing areas," among them "no small number of martyrs who, to witness of the word and apostolic dedication, have united the sacrifice of their lives.

  "Nor can we forget," he adds, "the many male and female religious, and lay volunteers who ... have made prodigious efforts to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth."

  The Holy Father highlights how "all Christian communities are born missionary." Hence, "for the individual faithful it is not just a matter of collaborating in evangelizing activity, but of being protagonists in and jointly responsible for the mission of the Church." This "brings about the growth of communion between communities and an increase of reciprocal aid, both in terms of personnel (priest, religious and lay volunteers) and of the means necessary to evangelize today."

  Nonetheless, the Pope continues, it must not be forgotten that "the first and principal contribution we are called to make to the Church's missionary activity is prayer. ... May all communities join in the choral invocation to 'Our Father Who art in heaven,' that His kingdom may come on earth!

  "I appeal particularly to children and young people, always ready for generous missionary commitment, ... to the sick and suffering, recognizing the value of their collaboration, so mysterious and indispensable for the work of salvation, ... and to consecrated people."

  Benedict XVI concludes by calling on the Virgin "to guide our footsteps" to "a Pentecost of love. In particular, may she make us aware that we are all missionaries, ... called by the Lord to be His witnesses in every moment of our lives."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as members of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum": Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, of Hanoi, Vietnam; Bishop Jean-Bosco Ntep of Edea, Cameroon; Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon, Korea; Prince Karl von Lowenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg of the diocese of Aachen, Germany; Fr. Adam Deren of the archdiocese of Wroclaw, Poland director general of Polish Caritas; Fr. Larry Snyder of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A. president of Catholic Charities; Fr. Flavio Peloso F.D.P., director general of the Little Work of Divine Providence (St. Luigi Orione) representing the Union of Superiors General; Sr. Mary Sujita Kallupurakkathu S.N.D., superior general of the Sisters of Our Lady representing the International Union of Superiors General; Hans Peter Rothlin, president of Aid to the Church in Need; Marina Canevali Costa of the archdiocese of Genoa, Italy president of the "Association Internationale des Charites;" Rafael del Rio Sendino, president of Spanish Caritas; Denis Vienot, president of Caritas Internationalis; Jean-Luc Moens, president of Fidesco, Belgium; Begona de Burgos Lopez, president of "Manos Unidas," Spain.
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Monday, May 28, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope greeted the older prelates, while to those recently consecrated he expressed the hope that, with their "youthful energies, they may contribute to the growth of evangelizing activities" in Mozambique.

  "As you were told on the day of your episcopal consecration," he went on, "you are responsible for announcing the Word of God throughout the area entrusted to you." The bishop's responsibilities also include, he added, "formation in prayer and preparation for the Sacraments, that they may be decorously administered to Christian people," as well as a concern for "the organic unity of the diocese and its charitable, educational and apostolic institutions."

  "Obviously, this pastoral service depends upon your presence, as often as possible, in all the communities of your dioceses and on your pastoral attention to people's living conditions, both human and religious. In particular, priests need you to visit and to receive them, they need your guidance and counsel."

  The Holy Father also mentioned the "immense task" facing Mozambican bishops in "evangelizing more than half the population," highlighting how all Christians must "collaborate to bring this about. One providential means to this end ... are the ecclesial movements and new communities," he added.

  In this mission "it is important to deepen the faith using all the means at your disposal," from the catechesis of young people and adults to meetings and liturgy, with the consequent inculturation these activities bring. Indeed, without inculturation "it would not be possible to impregnate ancestral customs with the Christian spirit," and "respectful dialogue with other religions would be difficult."

  "A profound and committed faith renews people's behavior in their social and professional lives," and consequently also renews "the fabric of society. ... Christians must contribute to overcoming injustices, ... helping the most needy, ... and promoting tolerance and reconciliation."

  "This," said Pope Benedict, "is a vitally important ethical task for the nation and as pastors it is your duty to inspire and sustain it, always preserving your own freedom -which is the Church's freedom on her prophetic mission - and maintaining a clear distinction between this pastoral mission and the ... programs of political leaders."

  The Pope then went on to consider the "great lack" of priests in the country, a situation that calls for "investment in the pastoral care of vocations." He also recognized the efforts of catechists who, he said, need "careful training" for their work and "special help to assume their responsibility of bearing witness to the faith in the face of the cultural evolution of their brothers and sisters."

  "The evangelization of Christian life and the increase of vocations depend upon families ... accepting as a model the requirements and grace of Christian marriage. I know that there is no lack of difficulties due to the limitations of certain ancient customs, as well as to the instability of homes which have to face harsh trials from a society in which sensuality and individualism predominate."

  Finally, the Holy Father recalled the numerous areas in which the pastoral solicitude of Mozambican bishops is required: "assistance to the poor and the marginalized, countering the advance of sects, and developing the social communications media. ... The questions upon which we have touched," he added, "represent a challenge that requires great efforts considering the limited apostolic resources available to you, even calling on priests and religious from other countries who, I hope, will prove generous."

  "I am sure you will overcome these challenges thanks to the faith and determination that motivate you," he concluded. "Treasure your experience, interpret it in harmony with the signs of the times and relative to the needs of your people, moved always by a spirit of faithfulness to the Church."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in a meeting being promoted by Young Entrepreneurs of Confindustria (the General Confederation of Italian Industry).

  The Pope opened his address to them by affirming that "all business enterprises are to be considered primarily as groups of people, whose rights and dignity must be respected. ... Human life, and the values of human life, must always be the foundation and the final aim of the economy."

  Pope Benedict spoke of "profit as the primary indicator of the good functioning of a firm," pointing out how "the social Magisterium of the Church recognizes its importance, at the same time underlining the need to safeguard the dignity of the people who, in one way or another, work for a company."

  "It is necessary," he continued, "for working activity to become once again an area in which people can realize their potential and make the most of their individual capacities and genius. And it depends upon you, dear business people, to create the most favorable conditions to bring this about."

  Benedict XVI told his audience of his conviction that, despite the crisis being suffered by the world of work, they would do everything possible "to safeguard jobs, especially among the young. In order to build the future with hope, young people must be able to rely on a reliable source of income for themselves and their loved ones."

  Over the years, he said, apart from reflecting upon "the centrality of mankind to the economy," the entrepreneurs have also considered the question of "the family in Italian industry." In this context, he remarked, "working in favor of families means contributing to a renewal of society and ensuring the foundations for real economic development."

  In closing, the Pope referred to the question of globalization saying that "if on the one hand it holds out hopes for a more widespread participation in development," on the other "it also presents various risks associated with new aspects of commercial and financial relations, which tend towards an increase in the gap between the economic wealth of the few and the growing poverty of the many. It is vital, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II so incisively said, 'to ensure a globalization in solidarity, a globalization without marginalization'."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope addressed to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, archbishop of Florence, Italy, marking the fourth centenary of the death of the mystic St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, a Carmelite nun who was born on April 2, 1566 and died on May 25, 1607.

  In the Letter, which Cardinal Antonelli read out yesterday evening during a Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral of Florence, the Holy Father points out how the Florentine saint "continues to be an inspirational spiritual presence for the Carmelites of Ancient Observance. In her they recognize the 'sister' who completed the entire journey of transforming union with God, and who identified in Mary the 'star' on the road to perfection.

  "This saint has the gift of being a mistress of spirituality for everyone," the Pope adds, "especially for priests, for whom she always nourished a real passion."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the ongoing jubilee celebrations marking the death of the saint "may contribute to making better known this shining figure, who shows everyone the dignity and beauty of the Christian vocation."

  "May this great mystic - from Florence, from its seminary, from the Carmelite convents that draw inspiration from her - still make her voice heard throughout the Church, spreading the announcement of God's love for all human beings."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope addressed to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, archbishop of Florence, Italy, marking the fourth centenary of the death of the mystic St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, a Carmelite nun who was born on April 2, 1566 and died on May 25, 1607.

  In the Letter, which Cardinal Antonelli read out yesterday evening during a Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral of Florence, the Holy Father points out how the Florentine saint "continues to be an inspirational spiritual presence for the Carmelites of Ancient Observance. In her they recognize the 'sister' who completed the entire journey of transforming union with God, and who identified in Mary the 'star' on the road to perfection.

  "This saint has the gift of being a mistress of spirituality for everyone," the Pope adds, "especially for priests, for whom she always nourished a real passion."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the ongoing jubilee celebrations marking the death of the saint "may contribute to making better known this shining figure, who shows everyone the dignity and beauty of the Christian vocation."

  "May this great mystic - from Florence, from its seminary, from the Carmelite convents that draw inspiration from her - still make her voice heard throughout the Church, spreading the announcement of God's love for all human beings."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2007 (VIS) - Pentecost, the Solemnity in which "the liturgy brings us to relive the birth of the Church," was the theme of Benedict XVI's meditations before praying the Regina Coeli with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  "We can say, then," the Pope told the faithful, "that the Church had her solemn inauguration with the descent of the Holy Spirit. In that extraordinary event we find the essential and distinguishing features of the Church: The Church is one, like the community of the Pentecost which was united in prayer and 'of one heart and soul.' The Church is holy, not because of her merits but because, moved by the Holy Spirit, her gaze is fixed on Christ in order to conform herself to Him and to His love. The Church is catholic, because the Gospel is addressed to all peoples and for this reason, from the very beginning, the Holy Spirit brought her to speak all languages. The Church is apostolic because, built upon the foundation of the Apostles, she faithfully safeguards their teaching through the uninterrupted chain of apostolic succession.

  "The Church moreover," Pope Benedict added, "is by her nature missionary. Since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has not ceased to impel her along the roads of the world, to the very ends of the earth and to the end of time.

  "This fact ... is already alluded to in the Acts of the Apostles which describes the passage of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome. Rome represents the world of the pagans and, hence, all those peoples who are outside the ancient people of God."

  "The Acts of the Apostles end with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome," the Pope concluded. "It can, then, be said that Rome is the real name of catholicity and of missionary endeavor, that it expresses faithfulness to the origins, to the Church of all times, to a Church that speaks all languages and reaches out to all cultures."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received His Beatitude Issac Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India.

  "As Peter's Successor, I happily confirmed the Synod's decision" said the Holy Father in his English-language address, referring to the election of Archbishop Thottunkal to his current office by the Synod of the Syro-Malankar Church on February 8.

  "Now the universal Church, together with all those who belong to your ecclesial tradition, is counting upon Your Beatitude to ensure that the Malankar community can proceed along a twofold path. On the one hand, through faithfulness to the Apostolic See you will always participate fully in the universal breath of the one Church of Christ; on the other hand your fidelity to the specifically Eastern features of your tradition will enable the whole Church to benefit from what in His manifold wisdom the Spirit is saying to the Churches'."

  "As head and shepherd of the Syro-Malankar Church," the Pope continued, "Your Beatitude has been entrusted with the mission of leading and sustaining the Christian witness and ecclesial life of the faithful of that noble Church throughout the vast Indian Sub-Continent and the other regions where Syro-Malankar Catholics are found."

  Going on to refer to the challenges of the current moment, the Holy Father expressed the view that "now is a time of new evangelization, a time of constantly renewed and convinced dialogue with all our brothers and sisters who share our Christian faith, a time of respectful and fruitful encounter between religions and cultures for the good of all, and especially the poorest of the poor.

  "Our commitment to evangelization needs to be constantly renewed, as we strive to build peace, in justice and solidarity, for the whole human family. May you always draw strength from the Lord and from the collegial support of your brother bishops - the members of the Synod."

  Benedict XVI concluded by assuring the major archbishop of his prayers for bishops of the Syro-Malankar Church, to whom he also sent a special greeting for "the happy occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Syro-Malankar hierarchy."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Josette Sheeran, executive president of the World Food Program.

 - Four prelates from the Central African Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui.

    - Bishop Peter Marzinkowski C.S.Sp., of Alindao.

    - Bishop Edouard Mathos of Bambari.

    - Bishop Juan Jose Aguirre Munoz M.C.C.I., of Bangassou.

  On Sunday, May 27, he received audience Robert Spaemann, professor emeritus of the University of Munich, Germany.

  On Saturday, May 26, he received in separate audiences:

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Germano Grachane C.M., of Nacala.

    - Bishop Ernesto Maguengue of Pemba.

 - Kiko Arguello, co-founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Josette Sheeran, executive president of the World Food Program.

 - Four prelates from the Central African Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui.

    - Bishop Peter Marzinkowski C.S.Sp., of Alindao.

    - Bishop Edouard Mathos of Bambari.

    - Bishop Juan Jose Aguirre Munoz M.C.C.I., of Bangassou.

  On Sunday, May 27, he received audience Robert Spaemann, professor emeritus of the University of Munich, Germany.

  On Saturday, May 26, he received in separate audiences:

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Germano Grachane C.M., of Nacala.

    - Bishop Ernesto Maguengue of Pemba.

 - Kiko Arguello, co-founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Carmelo Cuttitta, pastor of the parish of St. Joseph Cottolengo, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Palermo (area 1,366, population 914,506, Catholics 890,142, priests 570, permanent deacons 32, religious 1,863), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Godrano, Italy in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987.
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Friday, May 25, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Two prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Renato Corti of Novara.

    - Bishop Elio Tinti of Carpi.

 - Five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Francisco Chimoio O.F.M. Cap., of Maputo.

    - Bishop Adriano Langa O.F.M., of Inhambane.

    - Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai.

    - Archbishop Tome Makhweliha S.C.J., of Nampula.

    - Bishop Hilario Da Cruz Massinga O.F.M., of Lichinga.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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Thursday, May 24, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father attended a performance of the "Resurrexi" Oratorio, presented in his honor by prelates of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) for his 80th birthday, which fell on April 16.

  "This evening," said the Pope at the end of the concert, "we have had another opportunity to meditate upon the marvelous event of Christ's Resurrection." He expressed his thanks to the composer and to the performers - the choir and the orchestra of the Arena of Verona - pointing out how the Oratorio evoked "figures and episodes from the Gospel which lead us back to the central mystery of our faith, the Resurrection of the Lord."

  "Easter," Pope Benedict went on, "is the heart of Christianity. For all believers and all ecclesial communities the meeting with Christ, crucified and risen, has great importance. Without this individual and community experience, without an intimate friendship with Jesus, faith remains superficial and sterile."

  Recalling the fact that Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa assumed the presidency of the CEI just a few months ago, Benedict XVI gave assurances of his "best wishes and constant prayer for the high office he is called to fulfill in the service of the Church in Italy."
BXVI-CONCERT/RESURREXI/CEI                VIS 20070524 (230)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican today at 11 a.m., Benedict XVI received Georgi Pirinski, president of the parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria. Later, at 11.30 a.m., he received Liubisha Georgievski, president of the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Both men, leading delegations from their respective countries, have come to Rome for the commemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

  Addressing the Bulgarian delegation, the Pope noted how their visit was an expression "of the desire to reaffirm their own European traditions, profoundly steeped in Evangelical values. Of course, given its origins, the history of Bulgaria precedes Christian revelation, however there can be no doubt that in the Gospel the country found a source of values capable of reinforcing the culture, identity and genius typical of its people."

  "Following the sad and austere period of communist domination," the Pope continued, "Bulgaria today is moving towards full integration with other European nations. ... It is my fervent wish that the cultural and spiritual foundations present in Bulgarian society may continue to be cultivated within the country, and that they ... may be proposed and defended in those organizations of which she is already an authoritative member. I particularly hope that Bulgaria and her people may conserve and promote the Christian virtues that came down to them from Sts. Cyril and Methodius, still pertinent and necessary today."

  The Holy Father told the Macedonian delegation that he shared their desire, "not only that the spiritual patrimony you have inherited be shared, but also that your particular identity be granted its due consideration by the other European peoples who are close to you in terms of tradition and culture."

  "My cordial wish," he concluded, "is that you will be able to conserve, always and faithfully, the heritage of your two saintly protectors, so that your voice, both in the civil and religious field, may be heard and given just consideration."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican's Synod Hall, the Holy Father met with participants in the 57th general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which is being held this week.

  The Pope noted how the meetings he had held with Italian bishops during their "ad limina" visits over recent months had served to corroborate his "conviction that in Italy the faith is alive and profoundly rooted, and that the Church is an organization of the people, a capillary network close to individuals and families. ... The Catholic faith and the presence of the Church remain the great unifying factor of this beloved nation and a precious reservoir of moral energies for the future."

  Apart from these "positive elements," Benedict XVI also noted "the difficulties and snares" which, he said, "can grow with the passage of time and of the generations." In this context he warned against "a culture marked by moral relativism, poor in certainties and rich in demands, at times unjustified demands. We also feel the need to reinforce Christian formation through a more profound catechesis, and to this end the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be of great service.

  "There is also need," he added, "for a constant commitment to place God always at the center of the lives of our communities, giving primacy to prayer, to personal friendship with Jesus and, hence, to the call to sanctity. In particular, great concern must be shown for vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life."

  The Pope noted the connection between the theme of this general assembly - "Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world: the Church on her mission, 'ad gentes' and among us" - and the goals of the Ecclesial Congress of Verona, held in October 2006.

  What is important, he said, is "to announce and bear witness to Jesus Christ," to "those peoples who are opening to the faith for the first time, to the children of the peoples who now live and work in Italy, and to our own people who at times have abandoned the faith and who are anyway subject to the pressure of the secularizing tendencies that seek to dominate the society and culture of this country."

  "Today too, as the Declaration 'Dominus Iesus' reaffirmed, we must be fully aware that from the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true man living and present in the Church, comes the salvific unicity and universality of Christian revelation and, consequently, the essential task of announcing Jesus Christ to everyone."

  "Esteem and respect towards other religions and cultures, with the seeds of truth and goodness they contain, ... are especially necessary in our own times," said the Holy Father. "However, there must be no reduction in our awareness of the originality, fullness and unicity of the revelation of the true God Who in Christ was definitively given us, and nor can the Church's missionary vocation be diminished or weakened."

  The Pope then went on to refer to the bishops' "specific responsibility, not only towards the Churches entrusted to you but also towards the entire nation." And he added: "While fully and cordially respecting the distinction between Church and politics, between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, we cannot but concern ourselves with what is good for mankind," and specifically with "the common good of Italy." In this context the Pope mentioned "the Note approved by the Permanent Episcopal Council dealing with the family founded on marriage and with legislative initiatives concerning de facto unions," in which he identified "full harmony with the teaching of the Apostolic See."

  A recent demonstration in support of the family organized in Rome "at the initiative of the Catholic lay faithful but attended by many non-Catholics," said the Holy Father, "certainly contributed to making everyone more aware of the significance and role of the family in society, ... in the face of a culture that deludes itself that it favors happiness by a unilateral insistence on individual freedom."

  The Pope mentioned the "daily service to many forms of poverty, old and new, visible and hidden," and praised the work of Caritas and of volunteer organizations. He invited bishops to promote this service so that "everyone can see there is no separation between the Church, custodian of moral law, ... and the Church that invites the faithful to become good Samaritans and recognize a brother in each suffering person."

  Finally, Pope Benedict recalled the pastoral initiatives underway in preparation for the next World Youth Day, due to be held in Sydney, Australia in 2008. "We well know," he said, "that the Christian formation of the new generations is perhaps the most difficult, but the most supremely important, task the Church has to face."
AC/GENERAL ASSEMBLY/CEI                    VIS 20070524 (810)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - "Latin Future: the language for building the identity of Europe" is the theme of an international congress to be held in Rome and the Vatican from May 25 to 26. The event is being promoted by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

  Professors, senators, writers and journalists from various countries, the majority Italian, are due to participate in the congress.

  On the first day Friday, May 25, discussions will focus on the question of "the role of Latin in the formation of Europe" and on the "modernity and significance of Latin for scientific and cultural progress."

  Among those present on Saturday, May 26, to consider the question of "policies to follow in order to support the study of Latin" will be Jan Figel, European Commissioner for Education, Training, and Culture, and Wang Huansheng, a member of the Academy of Social Sciences of Beijing, China.

  Before the closing address, due to be delivered by Msgr. Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, the winner of the "ad Fontes" journalism prize will be announced. The prize, now in its second edition, is awarded for the publication of articles on subjects associated with the importance of Classical languages in education and scientific and cultural development.


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience, Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20070524 (40)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As members of the Congregation for Catholic Education: Cardinals Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada; William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, military ordinary for the United States of America; and Bishops Gil Antonio Moreira of Jundiai, Brazil, and Diego Coletti, of Como, Italy.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

 - As members of the presidential committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinals Christian Wiyghan Tumi, archbishop of Douala, Cameroon, and Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for the Family Carl Albert Anderson and Dorian Loundsbury Anderson, U.S.A.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Molghe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, presented by Bishop Ignace Matondo Kua Nzambi C.I.C.M., upon having reached the age limit.
RE/.../MATONDO                            VIS 20070523 (50)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, delivered an address to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly which is meeting to consider the theme: "Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS."

  Speaking English, Archbishop Migliore referred to the "detailed and comprehensive report of the secretary general" which "lists the greatest challenges: caring for the 39.5 million people presently living with HIV; reducing the number of people dying annually from AIDS, which in 2006 was 2.9 million; preventing new infections, which currently run at some 4 million per year; and taking special care of young people, who accounted for 40 percent of new infections last year."

  "The Holy See," he went on, "seizes this occasion to re-affirm its commitment to intensify its response to this disease, through its ongoing support for a world-wide network of some 1,600 hospitals, 6,000 clinics, and 12,000 initiatives of a charitable and social nature in developing countries."

  The Holy See, said the permanent observer, "believes that providing information and opportunities for an education respectful of naturally based values is essential both in the development of scientific advancement and for personal prevention."

  Archbishop Migliore concluded by encouraging all States "to be more forthcoming in providing accurate numbers with respect to monitoring and evaluation, however difficult this may be. A factual understanding as to where the world community stands on this matter will serve us well as we attempt to address all the problems associated with HIV/AIDS and to care for all."
DELSS/AIDS/UN:MIGLIORE                    VIS 20070523 (270)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI's recent apostolic trip to Brazil was the theme of his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 25,000 people.

  "My journey," said the Pope, "was primarily an act of praise to God for the 'wonders' worked among the people of Latin America, and for the faith that has animated their lives and culture over more than 500 years."

  The Holy Father recalled how "the relationship between faith and culture" was always something dear to the hearts of his predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II. "I have sought to follow their example," he said, "confirming the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean on her journey in a faith that has become living history, popular piety and art, in dialogue with the rich pre-Colombian traditions and with the many influences from Europe and other continents.

  "Of course," he added, "remembrance of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelization on the Latin American continent: ... the suffering and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous peoples whose fundamental human rights were often trampled underfoot. But the obligatory mention of those unjustifiable crimes, condemned even at the time by missionaries like Bartolomeo de las Casas and theologians such as Francisco de Vitoria, ... must not prevent us from recognizing with gratitude the marvelous work achieved by divine grace among those peoples over the course of the centuries."

  On the Latin American continent, the Holy Father continued, "the Gospel has become ... the mainstay of a dynamic synthesis that has different aspects in the different nations but everywhere expresses the identity of the Latin American people."

  Returning to the subject of his trip, Benedict XVI observed that "Brazil is a great country that upholds profoundly rooted Christian values, but it also suffers enormous social and economic problems. In order to help solve them, the Church must mobilize all the spiritual and moral strength of her communities, seeking suitable points of agreement with other wholesome forces in the country."

  "Brazil is also a country capable of offering the world a new model of development. In fact, Christian culture can encourage a 'reconciliation' between mankind and the creation on the basis of the restoration of personal dignity in the relationship with God the Father." In this context, the Holy Father mentioned his visit to the "Fazenda da Esperanca" association for the rehabilitation of people with problems of drug and alcohol abuse, which also incorporates a community of Poor Clares. "I felt that this," he said, "is emblematic for the world today, which certainly needs psychological and social 'rehabilitation,' but even more so spiritual rehabilitation."

  Another important moment of the Pope's Brazil visit was the canonization of Frei Antonio de Santa Ana Galvao, "a man of peace and charity whose witness is a further confirmation that sanctity is the true revolution capable of promoting authentic reform of the Church and society."

  Commenting on his meeting in Sao Paulo cathedral with Brazilian bishops - "the largest episcopal conference in the world" - the Pope recalled how "I encouraged my confreres to advance and reinforce their commitment to the new evangelization, urging them to further ... the diffusion of the Word of God, so that the innate and widespread religiosity of the people may deepen and become a mature faith, an individual and community adherence to the God of Jesus Christ."

  "I recognize the dedication of these faithful servants who wish to present the Gospel, without reduction or confusion, safeguarding the deposit of faith. ... Their constant concern is to promote social development, especially through the formation of the laity who are called to take on roles of responsibility in the political and economic fields."

  The Pope then turned to consider his meeting with young people, whom he encouraged "take advantage of the great 'richness' of youth in order to become the young face of the Church."

  Finally, he recalled the culminating point of his trip to Brazil, the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Shrine of Our Lady in the Brazilian city of Aparecida. The theme of the conference is "Disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life ('I am the Way and the Truth and the Life')."

  "The word 'disciple'," said the Pope, "suggests the idea of formation and of following [a master], the term 'missionary' expresses the fruit of discipleship, in other words bearing witness to and communicating a real experience: the truth known and assimilated. ... Joyfully renewing the will to be disciples of Jesus ... is the fundamental condition for being His missionaries who 'start again from Christ,' to use the words of Pope John Paul II to the entire Church following the Jubilee 2000."

  "With my apostolic trip," Pope Benedict concluded, "I wished to exhort people to continue along this path, presenting the unifying perspective of the Encyclical 'Deus caritas est,' a perspective that is inextricably social and theological and that can be summed up in this expression: 'it is love that gives life'."

  Before the audience, the Pope blessed a statue of St. Jose Manyanet (1833-1901) which has been placed in a niche on the exterior of the apse of St. Peter's Basilica. This Spanish saint promoted the building of the cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain and founded the "Sons of the Holy Family" and the "Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth" to support the Christian education of children and adolescents.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2007 (VIS) - The International Association of Friends of Sacred Music is promoting a musical parade, due to take place in Rome from May 25 to 27 and to involve 16 marching bands from Austria and Germany. The event is intended to mark Benedict XVI's 80th birthday which fell in April.

  According to a communique made public by the association, thanks to the great success of the event in 2006, it is being repeated this year in order to fill the streets of the Eternal City with "folklore, music and joy."

  The event will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 25, with a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, the musical parade start out from Via della Conciliazione marching along some of the surrounding streets before reaching St. Peter's Square at around 6 p.m. There the bands will then line up in a circle and play Beethoven's "Hymn to Joy."

  On Sunday, May 27, the bands will gather in Piazza del Sant'Uffizio and, at midday, participate in the Regina Coeli prayer with the Pope in St. Peter's Square. Having received the Holy Father's greeting, they will play "Grosser Gott wir loben Dich."
.../MUSICAL PARADE/...                        VIS 20070522 (220)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday in the Vatican, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held a plenary session in order to continue negotiations on article 10, para. 2 of the "Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel" of December 30 1993.

  According to a communique made public by the working commission late yesterday afternoon, the Holy See delegation was led by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, while the Israeli delegation was headed by Aaron Abramovich, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  "The talks," the English-language communique reads, "took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, mutual understanding and good will, and produced important progress and hope for yet further advances in the coming months. The next meeting of the plenary will take place in the first half of December this year, in Israel, and in the meantime the commission will continue upon its task at the 'working level'."

Monday, May 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Pierre Duprey M. Afr., former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on May 13 at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Rafael Angel Gonzalez Ramirez, emeritus of Barinas, Venezuela, on May 10 at the age of 90.

 - Bishop Lorenzo Rodolfo Guibord Levesque O.F.M., former apostolic vicar of San Jose del Amazonas, Peru, on May 9 at the age of 83.

 - Bishop Federico Bonifacio Madersbacher Gasteiger O.F.M., emeritus of San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia, on April 28 at the age of 88.

 - Bishop Walter Joseph Schoenherr, former auxiliary of Detroit, U.S.A., on April 27, at the age of 87.
.../DEATHS/...                            VIS 20070521 (130)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Corrado Maggioni S.M.M., official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as bureau chief at the same congregation.
NA/.../MAGGIONI                            VIS 20070521 (40)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal conference, accompanied by Bishop Giuseppe Bertori, secretary general of that conference.

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

    - Archbishop Jaime Pedro Goncalves of Beira, apostolic administrator of Quelimane.

    - Bishop Francisco Joao Silota M. Afr., of Chimoio.

    - Bishop Manuel Chuanguira Machado of Gurue.

    - Bishop Paulo Mandlate S.S.S., of Tete.

  On Saturday, May 19, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

 - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20070521 (140)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, has delivered a speech on the subject of "the Holy See and modern challenges in health promotion," during the course of the 60th World Health Assembly, being held in Geneva from May 14 to 23.

  Opening his English-language talk, the archbishop congratulated Margaret Chan, the new director of the World Health Organization (WHO). "We welcome," he said, "her designation of the health of women and of the people of Africa as major concerns during her tenure in office. The Catholic Church has traditionally been in the front line in the promotion of the authentic health of women, by helping them to harmonize their physical, psychological and social well-being with moral and spiritual values. In this line, the Catholic Church is also convinced of the God-given, equal, and complementary dignity of women and men."

  "Regarding Africa, the Popes have repeatedly expressed deep concern over its anguished history 'where many nations are still in the grip of famine, war, racial and tribal tensions, political instability and the violation of human rights,' and Pope Benedict XVI has exhorted the international community, 'we must not forget Africa'."

  The permanent observer called attention to "resolutions and recommendations with regard to the pandemics of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV," and recalled how last November "the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care convened more than 500 experts to reflect on 'Pastoral aspects of the treatment of infectious diseases.' In addressing those gathered, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to implement social justice in the sensitive area of treatment and nursing and therefore to ensure a fair distribution of resources for research and treatment. In this same perspective, as the chancellor of Germany prepared to assume the presidency of both the G8 countries and the European Union, the Holy Father, in a letter to her," emphasized the "need to make available medical and pharmaceutical technology and health care expertise without imposing legal or economic conditions."

  The archbishop dwelt upon the Holy See's concern "for the tragic loss of life each year among some 10.5 million children under five years of age; many of these children die of diseases that are treatable in adults but for which appropriate dosages and formulations have not yet been developed for pediatric use." He also noted, "with much regret, that only 15 percent of HIV-positive children in need of anti-retroviral treatment actually have access to these life-saving therapies."

  "In all the deliberations during this Assembly and in the subsequent implementation of World Health Assembly resolutions," Archbishop Tomasi concluded, "my delegation urges a perspective on health security that is grounded on an anthropology respectful of the human person in his or her integrity and looks far beyond the absence of disease to the full harmony and sound balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual and social forces within the human person."
DELSS/HEALTH/GENEVA:TOMASI                VIS 20070521 (500)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message, dated April 3, from the Holy Father to Paul Kagame, president of the Republic of Rwanda, for that country's annual day of national mourning to mark the beginning of the 1994 genocide. The anniversary day fell on April 7, Easter Saturday.

  "I wish to participate," writes the Pope in his Message, "in the national mourning and especially in the prayers for all the victims of that horrendous bloodbath, without distinction of creed, ethnicity or political opinion."

  The Holy Father also expresses his hope "that all Rwandans, guided by their civil and religious authorities, commit themselves with greater generosity and effectiveness in favor of national reconciliation and the building of a new country, in truth and justice, in fraternal unity and peace."

  "Religious motivations, which are the foundation of Catholics' commitment to family and social life, and the moral principles that derive therefrom, represent a point of encounter for Christians and for all men and women of good will."

  Benedict XVI concludes his message by affirming that "the Christian faith, which is shared by the majority of Rwandans, if lived coherently and fully, is a real help in overcoming a past of errors and death, the culminating point of which was the 1994 genocide. At the same time, such faith stimulates trust in the possibility offered to all Rwandans, reconciled to one another, to build a better future together, rediscovering the novelty of love which is the only power that can lead to personal and social perfection and orient history towards good."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of Justino Maria Aparicio Guterres, the first ambassador from the Democratic Republic of East Timor. The Holy See established diplomatic relations with the country on the same day that East Timor declared its national independence, May 20, 2002.

  In his talk to the diplomat the Pope expressed the view that the large turnout in recent presidential elections, won by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jose Ramos Horta, "demonstrate the great civic maturity of the people of Timor, and the hope they have in the process of constructing a democratic State."

  "Those in charge of the political, social and economic life of East Timor," he said, "face an arduous journey not without obstacles: there is no lack of internal and external misunderstandings; resources are insufficient to answer the many needs of health, education and employment; and not everyone is ready to abandon their personal or party interests."

  The Church and her pastors in East Timor, where 98 percent of the population is Catholic, said the Holy Father, "inspires and promotes a culture of solidarity and peaceful coexistence in justice, encouraging people to collaborate in favor of progress and the common good, without forgetting the attention due to the poorest and least privileged."

  After recalling how on Easter Sunday this year he had mentioned the population of East Timor's "need of reconciliation and peace," the Pope launched an appeal to the authorities in the country "to do everything possible to restore public order effectively, using legal means, and to ensure security for citizens in their daily lives, thanks also to a renewed confidence in the legitimate institutions of the State."

  The Holy Father also emphasized how the Church, "in enlightening the moral conscience of political, economic and financial leaders," highlights "the principle of solidarity as the basis for a true economy of communion and distribution of wealth, both in the international and the national spheres. Such solidarity requires that the efforts to resolve problems of underdevelopment, and the sacrifices necessary to overcome economic and political crises, be shared equally, bearing in mind the needs of those least able to defend themselves."

  "By means of technical assistance and appropriate training, it is vital to help those countries that are coming out of difficult periods to support stable democratic institutions, and to use their wealth for the good of all inhabitants, ensuring people a dignified moral, civic and intellectual education. ... Through the integral promotion of people, it will be possible to help countries develop, and to help them become the main players in their own progress and partners in international life, facing the future with confidence."

  Benedict XVI concluded by giving assurances that bishops, priests and lay faithful in East Timor "will tirelessly continue their mission of evangelization, assistance and charity, ... bearing witness of selfless commitment to the most needy."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2007 (VIS) - After praying the Regina Coeli today with thousands of people filling St. Peter's Square, the Pope made an appeal for an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip.

  "The clashes between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip," he said, "and the launching of rockets against the inhabitants of nearby Israeli cities which provoked armed retaliation, are causing a bloody deterioration of the situation which fills us with alarm.

  "Once more, in the name of God, I plead for an end to this tragic violence. At the same time, to the much tried Israeli and Palestinian people, I wish to express my solidarity and closeness, and to give assurances of recollections in my prayers.

  "I appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the Palestinian authorities so that, through dialogue and with firmness, they may return to the arduous path of agreement, neutralizing the violent elements. I invite the Israeli government to moderation and exhort the international community to increase its commitment in favor of a relaunch of negotiations. May the Lord sustain and support those who work for peace!"
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to greet pilgrims gathered below and pray the Regina Coeli with them.

  In his remarks the Pope recalled his recent apostolic trip to Brazil, which is due to be the subject of his next general audience on Wednesday, and he invited all the faithful to continue to pray for the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean currently being held in the Brazilian city of Aparecida, and for "the journey of all the People of God who live in South America."

  Benedict XVI also referred to the annual celebration of the World Day of Social Communications, the theme of which this year is "Children and the Media, a challenge for education." He said: "The educational challenges in the modern world are often linked to the influence of the mass media, which compete with school, Church and even the family.

  "In such a context," he added, "appropriate training in the correct use of the media is essential. Parents, teachers, and the ecclesial community are called to work together to educate children and young people to be selective and to develop critical attitudes, cultivating a taste for what is aesthetically and morally valid. But the media must make their own contribution to this educational commitment, promoting the dignity of the human being, marriage and the family, the triumphs and achievements of civilization.

  "Programs that inculcate violence and anti-social behavior, or that vulgarize human sexuality, are unacceptable, and even more so when directed at children. Therefore, I renew my appeal to leaders of the media industry and to those who work in social communications, to safeguard the common good, respect the truth and protect the dignity of the person and of the family."

  Finally, the Pope recalled the fact that many countries celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today. "The Risen Jesus returns to the Father," he said, "and thus He opens the way to eternal life and makes possible the gift of the Holy Spirit." In closing, the Holy Father appealed to the Virgin to ensure "a renewed Pentecost" for the entire Church "


VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received members of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" Foundation, which was established by Servant of God John Paul II in 1993 for religious and charitable purposes.

  Addressing them, the Pope recalled how during their recent annual meeting they had considered the "most pertinent aspects of the Church's social doctrine with reference to the most pressing problems and challenges in the world today." He also expressed his thanks for the members' contributions "in response to the many requests for help that reach the Pope from all over the world."

  Over these days, he said, "your attention has been focussed on Asian countries characterized by strong economic growth which, however, does not always lead to real social development, and on African nations where, unfortunately, economic growth and social development face many obstacles. What these peoples really need, as peoples all over the world need, is harmonic social and economic progress of truly human dimensions."

  After recalling how this year marks the 40th anniversary of Servant of God Pope Paul VI's Encyclical "Populorum progressio," Benedict XVI pointed out how "that great pontiff strongly affirmed that 'development ... cannot be restricted to economic growth alone'."

  "Concern for human beings' real needs, respect for the dignity of each individual, and a sincere search for the common good: these are the motivating principles that must be borne in mind when planning the development of a nation. Unfortunately, however, this does not always happen. Modern globalized society is often marked by paradoxes and dramatic imbalances.

  "Indeed," the Holy Father added, "when one considers the sustained levels of economic growth, when one pauses to analyze the problems associated with modern progress - including pollution and the irresponsible consumption of natural and environmental resources - it is evident that only a process of globalization that remains attentive to the requirement of solidarity can ensure humanity a future of real wellbeing and stable peace for all."

  "I know that you, professionals and lay faithful actively committed in the world, wish to contribute to resolving these problems in the light of the Church's social doctrine. You also aim to promote a culture of solidarity and to favor a form of economic development attentive to the real expectations of individuals and of peoples. ... Only by bringing together the three indispensable aspects of development - economic, social and human - can a free and united society grow."

Friday, May 18, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Mali on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako.

    - Bishop Joseph Dao of Kayes.

    - Bishop Georges Fonghoro of Mopti.

    - Bishop Jean-Gabriel Diarra of San.

    - Bishop Augustin Traore of Segou.

    - Bishop Jean-Baptiste Tiama of Sikasso.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, before his return to the Vatican scheduled for 5 p.m., the Pope received prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Mali who have just complete their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope called upon the bishops to be "zealous pastors who, as men of faith, guide the people of God with trust and courage, remaining close to everyone so as to engender hope, even in the most difficult situations."

  After highlighting how priests "cooperate generously in the apostolic mission and often live in difficult human and spiritual situations," the Holy Father affirmed the need for them "to live out their priestly identity and commit themselves totally to the Lord in the disinterested service of their brothers and sisters, without losing heart before the difficulties they have to face."

  Contemplative and sacramental life, said Benedict XVI, "is a real pastoral priority, which will help priests to respond decisively to the call to sanctity they received from the Lord and to their mission to guide the faithful on that same journey."

  Referring to candidates to the priesthood, the Pope recalled the importance of human formation "which is the base of priestly formation," he said. In this context, he indicated how "particular attention to candidates' emotional maturity will help them to respond freely to a life of celibacy and chastity, a precious gift of God, and to maintain a firm and stable conscience throughout their lives."

  "There is an urgent need for the lay faithful to commit to the service of reconciliation, justice and peace," he went on. "The laity must acquire a renewed awareness of their special mission within the one mission of the Church, and of the spiritual requirements this brings with it."

  The Pope emphasized the need to form "competent lay men and women to serve the common good", making them capable "of facing the daily challenges of the political economic, social and cultural fields."

  The Holy Father also recalled religious and lay communities and the service they provide to the Church "through their educational work in favor of the young generations, their care for those who suffer, and their charitable work in general."

  Speaking of the bishops' own concern for the pastoral care of marriage, Benedict XVI said that "in responding to the fear often expressed about the definitive nature of marriage, solid preparation and the collaboration of lay people and experts will enable Christian couples to be faithful to their marriage vows."

  Finally, the Pope expressed his satisfaction at the cordial relations that exist between the Catholic faithful of Mali and their Muslim compatriots. "It is legitimate," he said, "for each community to express its identity visibly, while maintaining mutual respect, recognizing the religious diversity of the national community and favoring peaceful coexistence at all levels of society. In this way it is possible to advance together, jointly committed to justice, harmony and peace."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday in New York, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, delivered a talk during the 6th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples of the Commission for Social Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme of the meeting was: "Territories, lands and natural resources."

  Speaking English, Archbishop Migliore expressed the Holy See's disappointment at "the postponement of the adoption of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP)."

  The Holy See delegation, the archbishop continued, "would like to draw attention to the benefits which the existence of such a human rights instrument would entail especially for the very poorest living in rural areas, often of indigenous origin and often marginalized by the modern world, and those who could be empowered to contribute much more to the political and economic life where they live.

  "Various objections have been raised against the draft declaration as it currently stands," he added. "Some say that the DRIP contradicts national constitutions and that self-determination only concerns those who used to live under colonial rule. Others suggest that the DRIP is unclear on what constitutes 'indigenous people'."

  Yet, "the Holy See wishes to reiterate the particular importance it attaches to the instrument. ... Such a political gesture would not only profit the poorest and most excluded citizens in both rich and poor countries of the world, but would also enhance peace among peoples and foster the just and equitable enjoyment of human rights by all."

  "States have legitimate concerns regarding sovereignty, citizenship, equality and the sane and equitable exploitation of natural resources," the archbishop concluded, "but these questions should not allow progress on indigenous peoples' equally legitimate rights and concerns to be postponed 'sine die'."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Maurizio Faggioni O.F.M. as counsellor of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2007 (VIS) - The 16th "Feast of Peoples" will be held in the square of St. John Lateran in Rome on Sunday, May 20. The initiative has been organized by the Scalabrinian Missionary Fathers in collaboration with Caritas and with the Vicariate of Rome's office for immigrants.

  With the theme chosen for this year's event - "a home far from home" - the organizers wish to explore the level of acceptance and integration of immigrants in the city community, at the same time recalling the image of the Church as an open and welcoming home beyond all limits and frontiers. The initiative also has the support of the Rome city and provincial authorities.

  According to a communique published by the Vicariate of Rome, the day will begin at 9 a.m. with the opening of stalls run by various communities and a series of shows for children. At 10 a.m. a roundtable meeting will be held on the theme "the participation of foreigners in the economic, political, social and cultural life of the city."

  At midday in the basilica of St. John Lateran Msgr. Mauro Parmeggiani, secretary general of the Vicariate, will celebrate a Mass during which 30 of the ethnic communities present in Rome will animate the liturgy. At 1.30 p.m. there will be a tasting of 23 typical dishes and, beginning at 3 p.m., folkloric demonstrations including 20 dance shows.

  "Ethnic communities and groups from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America," says the communique, "will be the active participants in a day of encounter and celebration." The day came into being "at the initiative of the Scalabrinian Fathers on May 3, 1992, with the aim of creating a space for dialogue between the cultures and traditions of different peoples, and sensitizing institutions, ecclesial bodies and all citizens to the issue of immigration."
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of military ordinary for Argentina, presented by Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto C.SS.R., upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2007 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a message in the Pope's name to more than 250 Christian movements and communities which, on Saturday May 12, celebrated the event "Together for Europe 2007" in the German city of Stuttgart.

  In the message, published in German, English, French and Italian, the cardinal points out how the current initiative "has come to life through the good ecumenical intuition of Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican groups," seeking "to underline the need to re-affirm together faithfulness to the Gospel in a Europe that risks losing its original values and giving up on its Christian roots.

  "The words of the Venerable Pope John Paul II," Cardinal Bertone adds, "seem to be more relevant than ever: 'I would like to mention in a particular way the loss of Europe's Christian memory and heritage, accompanied by a kind of practical agnosticism and religious indifference whereby many Europeans give the impression of living without spiritual roots and somewhat like heirs who have squandered a patrimony entrusted to them by history.'

  "Pope Benedict XVI echoes this consideration. From the beginning of his pontificate he has never missed an opportunity to recall the importance of safeguarding the Christian inheritance, the particular richness of the European continent.

  "The appeal not to lose our roots is like a repeated invitation to work concretely so that believers in Christ of different confessions may unite their efforts in the service of such a timely and relevant cause. It is a matter of defending a human and spiritual heritage that is vital for the authentic development of Europe."

  Benedict XVI's wish, the text goes on, is "that the meeting 'Together for Europe' may strengthen the desire for communion that animates lay movements and communities of the different Churches; that it may contribute to overcoming prejudices, nationalism and historical barriers, and may urge people to work so that the spiritual dimension may not weaken in the Europe of post-modern times.

  "All human efforts would amount to nothing," the message concludes, "were we to be separated from divine support, because 'unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build'."
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Monday, May 14, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast S.J. of Halifax, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of Ottawa (area 5,818, population 859,000, Catholics 410,635, priests 239, permanent deacons 67, religious 867), Canada. He succeeds Archbishop Marcel Andre J. Gervais, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before 8 p.m. yesterday (1 a.m. this morning in Rome), Benedict XVI arrived at the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos where he was greeted by Jose Alencar Gomes da Silva, vice-president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo, Bishop Luiz Gonzaga Bergonzini of Guarulhos, and other civil and religious authorities.

  The Pope pronounced a brief departure speech in which he expressed his satisfaction at having had the opportunity to inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Brazilian city of Aparecida. "The signs of enthusiasm and the deep piety of this people of the Land of the Holy Cross will remain for ever impressed in my memory," he said. "Together with so many pilgrims from the length and breadth of the continent of hope, they have given whole-hearted proof of their faith in Christ and their love for the Successor of Peter.

  "I pray," he added, "that the Lord will assist religious and civil leaders to give renewed impulse to the initiatives that are awaited by all for the common good of the great Latin American family."

  Having praised the work of consular and religious authorities during his pastoral visit, the Holy Father concluded by thanking everyone for having "contributed to the splendor of these days, filling those taking part with joy and hope - 'gaudium et spes!' - for the Christian family and for its mission in society."

  The Pope's plane took off at 8.55 p.m., landing at Rome's Ciampino airport at 12.30 p.m. local time. From the airport, the Pope travelled directly to the apostolic palace at Castelgandolfo where he is due to remain until Friday, May 18.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2007 (VIS) - This afternoon in the conference hall of the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, the Holy Father presided at the inaugural session of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean. The conference is due to last until May 31 and has as its theme: "Disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life ('I am the Way and the Truth and the Life')"

  The event - which took place during the celebration of Vespers on this sixth Sunday of Easter - began with greetings from Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile and president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).

  The Holy Father began his talk by giving thanks to God for "the great gift of the Christian faith to the peoples of this continent."

  "Faith in God," he said, "has animated the life and culture of these nations for more than five centuries. ... Yet what did the acceptance of the Christian faith mean for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean? For them, it meant knowing and welcoming Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realizing it, in their rich religious traditions. Christ is the Savior for Whom they were silently longing."

  "In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of His Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture. Authentic cultures are not closed in upon themselves, nor are they set in stone at a particular point in history, ... they are seeking an encounter with other cultures, hoping to reach universality through encounter and dialogue with other ways of life and with elements that can lead to a new synthesis, in which the diversity of expressions is always respected as well as the diversity of their particular cultural embodiment."

  "The wisdom of the indigenous peoples fortunately led them to form a synthesis between their cultures and the Christian faith which the missionaries were offering them. Hence the rich and profound popular religiosity, in which we see the soul of the Latin American peoples."

  Benedict XVI then considered the question of globalization saying that, although "from certain points of view this benefits the great family of humanity, ... it also undoubtedly brings with it the risk of vast monopolies and of treating profit as the supreme value."

  "In Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in other regions, there has been notable progress towards democracy, although there are grounds for concern in the face of authoritarian forms of government and regimes wedded to certain ideologies that we thought had been superseded, and which do not correspond to the Christian vision of man and society as taught by the Social Doctrine of the Church. On the other side of the coin, the liberal economy of some Latin American countries must take account of equity, because of the ever increasing sectors of society that find themselves oppressed by immense poverty or even despoiled of their own natural resources."

  The Pope noted the "notable degree of maturity in faith" among many lay people and catechists. "Yet it is true," he added, "that one can detect a certain weakening of Christian life in society overall and of participation in the life of the Catholic Church, due to secularism, hedonism, indifference and proselytism by numerous sects, animist religions and new pseudo-religious phenomena. ... The faithful are looking to this fifth conference for ... new paths and creative pastoral plans, ... capable of instilling a firm hope for living out the faith joyfully and responsibly, and thus spreading it in one's own surroundings."

  "In the face of the priority of faith in Christ and of life 'in Him' - as formulated in the title of this fifth conference - a further question could arise: could this priority not perhaps be a flight towards emotionalism, towards religious individualism, an abandonment of the urgent reality of the great economic, social and political problems of Latin America and the world, and a flight from reality towards a spiritual world?"

  "The first basic point to affirm," the Holy Father continued, "is the following: only those who recognize God know reality and are able to respond to it adequately and in a truly human manner. The truth of this thesis becomes evident in the face of the collapse of all the systems that marginalize God."

  At the beginning of this new phase for the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, starting with this fifth general conference in Aparecida, "an indispensable pre-condition is profound knowledge of the Word of God. To achieve this, we must train people to read and meditate on the Word of God through catechesis using the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its abridged version, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  "In this area," the Pope added, "we must not limit ourselves solely to homilies, lectures, Bible courses or theology courses, but we must have recourse also to the communications media: press, radio and television, websites, forums and many other methods for effectively communicating the message of Christ to a large number of people."

  There will also be need, he went on, for "social catechesis and a sufficient formation in the social teaching of the Church, for which a very useful tool is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Christian life is not expressed solely in personal virtues, but also in social and political virtues."

  "The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have the right to a full life, proper to the children of God, under conditions that are more human: free from the threat of hunger and from every form of violence." In this context, Benedict XVI recalled Paul VI's Encyclical "Populorum Progressio," which was promulgated 40 years ago this year and which emphasizes that "authentic development must be integral, that is, directed to the promotion of the whole person and of all people, and it invites all to overcome grave social inequalities and the enormous differences in access to goods."

  "In order to form disciples and sustain missionaries in their great task, the Church offers them in addition to the bread of the Word, the bread of the Eucharist. ... Hence the need to give priority in pastoral programs to appreciation of the importance of Sunday Mass" which "must be the center of Christian life."

  "Christians should be aware that they are not following a character from past history, but the living Christ, present in the 'today' and the 'now' of their lives. ... The encounter with Christ in the Eucharist calls forth a commitment to evangelization and an impulse towards solidarity; it awakens in the Christian a strong desire to proclaim the Gospel and to bear witness to it in the world so as to build a more just and humane society. ... Only from the Eucharist will the civilization of love spring forth which will transform Latin America and the Caribbean, making them not only the continent of hope, but also the continent of love!"

  "How," the Pope went on to ask, "can the Church contribute to the solution of urgent social and political problems, and respond to the great challenge of poverty and destitution? ... In this context, we inevitably speak of the problem of structures, especially those which create injustice.

  "In truth," he added, "just structures are a condition without which a just order in society is not possible. But how do they arise? How do they function? Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves; ... that not only would they have no need of any prior individual morality, but that they would promote a communal morality.

  "And this ideological promise has been proved false. The facts have clearly demonstrated it. The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful destruction of the human spirit. And we can also see the same thing happening in the West, where the distance between rich and poor is growing constantly, and giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.

  "Just structures," the Holy Father explained, "neither arise nor function without a moral consensus in society on fundamental values, and on the need to live these values with the necessary sacrifices, even if this goes against personal interest. Where God is absent - God with the human face of Jesus Christ - these values fail to show themselves with their full force, nor does a consensus arise concerning them.

  "I do not mean that non-believers cannot live a lofty and exemplary morality; I am only saying that a society in which God is absent will not find the necessary consensus on moral values or the strength to live according to the model of these values, even when they are in conflict with private interests.

  "On the other hand, just structures must be sought and elaborated in the light of fundamental values, with the full engagement of political, economic and social reasoning. ... This political task is not the immediate competence of the Church," because "respect for a healthy secularity - including the pluralism of political opinions - is essential in the authentic Christian tradition.

  "If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject, she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral authority, identifying herself with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions. ... Only by remaining independent can she teach the great criteria and inalienable values, guide consciences and offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere."

  The Holy Father expressed the view that, Latin America "being a continent of baptized Christians, it is time to overcome the notable absence - in the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universities - of the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders," and "to remind the laity of their responsibility and their mission to bring the light of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics."

  The Pope then considered other priority areas for the renewal of the Church in Latin America, beginning with the family which is a "patrimony of humanity and constitutes one of the most important treasures of Latin American countries." However, "it is currently suffering a degree of adversity caused by secularism and by ethical relativism, by movements of population internally and externally, by poverty, by social instability and by civil legislation opposed to marriage."

  "In some families in Latin America there still unfortunately persists a chauvinist mentality that ignores the 'newness' of Christianity, in which the equal dignity and responsibility of women relative to men is acknowledged and affirmed."

  "Consequently there has to be intense and vigorous pastoral care of families. Moreover, it is indispensable to promote authentic family policies corresponding to the rights of the family as an essential subject in society."

  The Holy Father then encouraged priests "to accomplish their exalted calling," to which end they must possess "a solid spiritual formation" and a life "imbued with faith, hope and charity." At the same time they "must be attentive to their cultural and intellectual preparation."

  "Latin American and Caribbean society needs your witness," he told religious men and women and consecrated persons. "In a world that so often gives priority to seeking well-being, wealth and pleasure as the goal of life, ... you are witnesses that there is another meaningful way to live."

  "I remind the lay faithful," he said, "that they too are the Church, the assembly called together by Christ so as to bring His witness to the whole world," and that "they must consider themselves jointly responsible for building society according to the criteria of the Gospel, with enthusiasm and boldness, in communion with their pastors."

  Pope Benedict noted the fact that "in Latin America the majority of the population is made up of young people. ... Young people are not afraid of sacrifice, but of a meaningless life. ... They must also commit themselves to a constant renewal of the world in the light of God. More still, they must oppose the facile illusions of instant happiness and the deceptive paradise offered by drugs, pleasure, and alcohol; and they must oppose every form of violence."

  "The deliberations of this fifth general conference lead us to make the plea of the disciples on the road to Emmaus our own: 'Stay with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent'," said the Pope as he reached the conclusion of his address.

  "Stay with us, because ... discouragement is eating its way into our hearts: make them burn with the certainty of Easter. ... Stay with us, Lord, when mists of doubt, weariness or difficulty rise up around our Catholic faith."

  "You are Life itself: remain in our homes, so that they may continue to be nests where human life is generously born, where life is welcomed, loved and respected from conception to natural death.

  "Remain, Lord, with those in our societies who are most vulnerable; remain with the poor and the lowly, with indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans, who have not always found space and support to express the richness of their culture and the wisdom of their identity. Remain, Lord, with our children and with our young people, who are the hope and the treasure of our continent. ... O Good Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick. Strengthen them all in faith, so that they may be Your disciples and missionaries!"

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