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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Fourth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops was held this afternoon in the Synod Hall. The president delegate on duty was His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, and there were 161 Synod Fathers present. The Holy Father attended the free discussions at the end of the sitting.


VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning, while Benedict XVI held his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Synod Fathers met in language group to elect moderators and relators and begin their deliberations on the "Relatio ante disceptationem," (report before the discussion).

  The Fifth General Congregation will be held in the Synod Hall this afternoon.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the Italian Blessed Angela of Foligno (ca. 1248 - 1309). The audience was celebrated in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 25,000 people.

  This great mediaeval mystic generally arouses admiration "for the heights she scaled in her experience of union with God", said the Pope. "However, perhaps too little attention has been given to her first steps, to her conversion and the journey that led her from her starting point of a 'great fear of hell', to her goal of complete union with the Trinity".

  Angela was born into a rich family and received a worldly education. She married very young, had a number of children and lived a carefree life until dramatic events such as the violent earthquake of 1279 and the consequences of a war with the city of Perugia led her to question the meaning of her existence. In 1285 she received a vision of St. Francis of Assisi whom she asked for help in making a general confession of her sins. Three years later, her husband and children having all died, Angela sold her goods and in 1291 entered the Third Order of St. Francis.

  Her story is recounted by her confessor in the "Book of Blessed Angela of Foligno". At the beginning of her spiritual itinerary the blessed felt the fear of hell for her sins. "This fear", the Pope explained, "reflected the kind of faith that Angela had at the moment of her conversion; a faith still poor in charity; that is, in love for God. Penance, fear of hell and atonement opened before Angela the prospect of the painful 'way of the cross', which ... would lead her to the 'way of love'".

  "Angela felt she had to give something to God to make up for her sins, but she slowly came to realise that she had nothing to give Him; indeed, that she was 'nothing' before Him. She understood that it was not her will that could give her the love of God, because her will could give her 'nothing', it could only give her 'non-love'". Little by little "she came to a profound understanding of the central reality: that what would save her from her 'unworthiness' and from her 'deserving hell' would not be her 'union with God' or her possession of the 'truth', but the crucified Jesus, ... His love, ... and her self-identification and self-transformation in the love and suffering of the crucified Christ".

  "Angela's conversion", the Holy Father concluded, "reached maturity only when in her heart she saw God's forgiveness as a gratuitous gift of the love of the Father, Who is the source of love". On her spiritual journey, "the move from conversion to mystical experience, from that which can be expressed to that which is inexpressible, came about through the crucified Christ. ... All her mystical experience thus tended to perfect 'likeness' with Him through increasingly profound and radical purifications and transformations. ... Such identification also meant living as Jesus lived, facing poverty, contempt and suffering. ... A sublime journey, the secret of which was constant prayer".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2010 (VIS) - In his greetings to pilgrims at the end of today's general audience the Holy Father, speaking Spanish, entrusted the miners of the Atacama region of Chile "to the divine goodness" of Blessed Angela of Foligno. Turning then to address Hungarian pilgrims in their native language, he gave assurances of recollection in his prayers "of the inhabitants of Kolontar who have had to abandon their homes, and of everyone who has been affected by the toxic mud, especially those who have lost their lives".

  "The anniversary of the election of John Paul II is drawing close", he said in remarks to Polish pilgrims. "Together with you I thank God for the witness of faith, hope and love given to us by my great predecessor on the Throne of Peter. I pray that the fruits of his life, ministry and teaching may remain in the Church and in people's hearts".
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