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Tuesday, January 31, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Clement Tirkey, vicar general of the diocese of Bagdogra, India, as bishop of Jalpaiguri (area 6,914, population 4,917,688, Catholics 118,700, priests 61 religious 301), India. The bishop-elect was born in Raigarh, India in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1978.

 - Francesco Silvano, Walter M. Bonino, and Antonio Chiminello as consultors of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was The Message of Benedict XVI for Lent 2006. The text, dated September 29, 2005, has as its title a verse taken from the Gospel of St. Mark: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." The full English-language version of the document is given below:

  "Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter.

  "Even in the 'valley of darkness' of which the Psalmist speaks, while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail.

  "In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a 'divine limit imposed upon evil,' namely, mercy. It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: 'Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity.'

  "In this light, I would like to pause and reflect upon an issue much debated today: the question of development. Even now, the compassionate 'gaze' of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine 'plan' includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and He brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.

  "Enlightened by this Paschal truth, the Church knows that if we are to promote development in its fullness, our own 'gaze' upon mankind has to be measured against that of Christ. In fact, it is quite impossible to separate the response to people's material and social needs from the fulfillment of the profound desires of their hearts. This has to be emphasized all the more in today's rapidly changing world, in which our responsibility towards the poor emerges with ever greater clarity and urgency. My venerable predecessor, Pope Paul VI, accurately described the scandal of underdevelopment as an outrage against humanity. In this sense, in the Encyclical 'Populorum Progressio,' he denounced 'the lack of material necessities for those who are without the minimum essential for life, the moral deficiencies of those who are mutilated by selfishness' and 'oppressive social structures, whether due to the abuses of ownership or to the abuses of power, to the exploitation of workers or to unjust transactions.'

  "As the antidote to such evil, Paul VI suggested not only 'increased esteem for the dignity of others, the turning towards the spirit of poverty, cooperation for the common good, the will and desire for peace,' but also 'the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and their finality'

  "In this vein, the Pope went on to propose that, finally and above all, there is 'faith, a gift of God accepted by the good will of man, and unity in the charity of Christ.' Thus, the 'gaze' of Christ upon the crowd impels us to affirm the true content of this 'complete humanism' that, according to Paul VI, consists in the 'fully-rounded development of the whole man and of all men.' For this reason, the primary contribution that the Church offers to the development of mankind and peoples does not consist merely in material means or technical solutions. Rather, it involves the proclamation of the truth of Christ, Who educates consciences and teaches the authentic dignity of the person and of work; it means the promotion of a culture that truly responds to all the questions of humanity.

  "In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the 'gaze' of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this 'gaze.' The examples of the saints and the long history of the Church's missionary activity provide invaluable indications of the most effective ways to support development.

  "Even in this era of global interdependence, it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed. Those who act according to the logic of the Gospel live the faith as friendship with God Incarnate and, like Him, bear the burden of the material and spiritual needs of their neighbors. They see it as an inexhaustible mystery, worthy of infinite care and attention. They know that he who does not give God gives too little; as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ. Without this perspective, civilization lacks a solid foundation.

  "Thanks to men and women obedient to the Holy Spirit, many forms of charitable work intended to promote development have arisen in the Church: hospitals, universities, professional formation schools, and small businesses. Such initiatives demonstrate the genuine humanitarian concern of those moved by the Gospel message, far in advance of other forms of social welfare. These charitable activities point out the way to achieve a globalization that is focused upon the true good of mankind and, hence, the path towards authentic peace.

  "Moved like Jesus with compassion for the crowds, the Church today considers it her duty to ask political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman. An important litmus test for the success of their efforts is religious liberty, understood not simply as the freedom to proclaim and celebrate Christ, but also the opportunity to contribute to the building of a world enlivened by charity. These efforts have to include a recognition of the central role of authentic religious values in responding to man's deepest concerns, and in supplying the ethical motivation for his personal and social responsibilities. These are the criteria by which Christians should assess the political programs of their leaders.

  "We cannot ignore the fact that many mistakes have been made in the course of history by those who claimed to be disciples of Jesus. Very often, when having to address grave problems, they have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next. The temptation was to believe that, in the face of urgent needs, the first imperative was to change external structures. The consequence, for some, was that Christianity became a kind of moralism, 'believing' was replaced with 'doing.' Rightly, therefore, my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, observed: 'The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world, a gradual secularization of salvation has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated…We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation.'

  "It is this integral salvation that Lent puts before us, pointing towards the victory of Christ over every evil that oppresses us. In turning to the Divine Master, in being converted to Him, in experiencing His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will discover a 'gaze' that searches us profoundly and gives new life to the crowds and to each one of us. It restores trust to those who do not succumb to skepticism, opening up before them the perspective of eternal beatitude. Throughout history, even when hate seems to prevail, the luminous testimony of His love is never lacking. To Mary, 'the living fount of hope,' we entrust our Lenten journey, so that she may lead us to her Son. I commend to her in particular the multitudes who suffer poverty and cry out for help, support, and understanding. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you a special Apostolic Blessing."
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Monday, January 30, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Dieter Althaus, minister-president of the Free State of Thuringen, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.

 - Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo, Italy.

  On Saturday, January 28, he received in separate audiences:

 - Karolos Papoulias, president of Greece, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Msgr. Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and the College of Prelate Auditors of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2006 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that today is the World Day of Leprosy and called on the leaders of nations to take appropriate measures to tackle the disease.

  After recalling how the Day of Leprosy was initiated more then 50 years ago by Raoul Follereau and continues to be celebrated today, thanks to "associations that draw inspiration from his humanitarian work," the Pope addressed special greetings to those suffering from the disease. He also gave encouragement to "the missionaries, health care workers, and volunteers committed on this frontier in the service of mankind."

  "Leprosy," he went on, "is a symptom of a more serious and widespread evil: poverty. For this reason, following the footsteps of my predecessors, I renew the appeal to leaders of nations to unite their efforts in order to overcome the grave imbalances that still penalize a large part of humanity."

  In greetings to Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father made reference to yesterday evening's tragic accident in the city of Katowice, where many people lost their lives when the roof of an international exposition center collapsed as they were attending an exhibition on homing pigeons. "I entrust the deceased to God's mercy, uniting myself in spirit to their relatives and to those injured in the accident. To all I impart a heartfelt blessing."

  In closing, Benedict XVI greeted 5,000 young people from Catholic Action in Rome, gathered in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the close of the "month of peace." The Pope said: "I know that you have set yourselves to 'train for peace,' under the guidance of that great 'trainer,' Jesus. For this reason, I entrust you young people of Catholic Action the task I proposed to everyone in my Message of January 1: learn to say and act the truth, always. Thus will you become builders of peace." After the Pope's words, two young people from Catholic Action freed two white doves, symbols of peace, from the window of his study.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2006 (VIS) - The primacy of charity and its most privileged witnesses, in other words the saints, provided the central theme of the Pope's reflections this morning, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Benedict XVI referred to his first Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," published last Wednesday, January 25, saying that saints "have all made of their lives, though with a thousand differing shades, a hymn to the God of Love." He particularly recalled those saints whose feast days are commemorated over this period and "who are very different from one another: the Apostle Paul with the disciples Timothy and Titus ... belong to the very roots of the Church, missionaries of the first evangelization. Thomas Aquinas, from the Middle Ages, is the model of a Catholic theologian who found Christ in the supreme synthesis of truth and love. Angela Merici, in the period of the Renaissance, proposed a way of sanctity for those who live in the lay state. In the modern age, we have John Bosco who, enflamed by the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, cared for disadvantaged children."

  "In truth," he continued, "the entire history of the Church is a history of sanctity, animated by the one Love which has its source in God. Indeed, only supernatural charity, such as that which flows ever new from the heart of Christ, can explain the prodigious flowering over the centuries of religious orders and institutes both male and female, as well as other forms of consecrated life. ... These men and women, whom the Spirit of Christ has formed as models of evangelical devotion, lead us to consider the importance of consecrated life as an expression, and a school, of charity."

  The Pope closed his comments by recalling how "on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life. On that afternoon, as John Paul II used to like to do, I will preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica. ... Together we will give thanks to God for the gift of consecrated life and pray that it may continue in the world as an eloquent sign of His merciful love."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Evreux, France, presented by Bishop Jacques David, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Christian Nourrichard.

 - Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, auxiliary of Rome, as bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Velletri-Segni (area 397, population 122,690, Catholics 119,690, priests 96, permanent deacons 12, religious 270), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Andrea Maria Erba B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Benedetto Tuzia, pastor of the parish of St. Robert Bellarmino, as auxiliary of Rome (area 881, population 2,787,206, Catholics 2,454,000, priests 5,390, permanent deacons 88, religious 26,530). The bishop-elect was born in Subiaco, Italy in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1969.

 - Appointed Msgr. Paul Alois Lakra, diocesan administrator of Gumla, India, as bishop of the same diocese (area 5,316, population 901,217, Catholics 150,296, priests 122, religious 277). The bishop-elect was born in Naditoli, India in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez of Matehuala, Mexico, as bishop of Tehuacan (area 6,294, population 967,471, Catholics 919,126, priests 96, religious 153), Mexico.

 - Appointed Fr. Wojciech Giertych O.P., theologian of the Pontifical Household, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Erected the new diocese of Nongstoin (area 5,247, population 313,723, Catholics 75,715, priests 18, religious 61) India, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Shillong, making it a suffragan of same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Victor Lyngdoh, pastor of the cathedral of Shillong, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Wahlang, India in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1987.

- Erected the new diocese of Jowai (area 3,819, population 293,229, Catholics 59,095, priests 17, religious 45) India, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Shillong, making it a suffragan of same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Vincent Kympat, pastor and director of the Laity Formation Center in Shillong, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Mawsurong, India in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1977.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - "Lord, if You will, you can make me clean," is this year's theme for the 53rd World Day of Leprosy, which is celebrated on Sunday, January 29. For the occasion, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, has prepared a message addressed to presidents of national episcopal conferences and to bishops in charge of pastoral health care ministry.

  The Church on this Day, writes the Cardinal, "wishes to listen to the very many people in the world who are still afflicted by Hansen's disease. ... [She] wants to give voice to their cry for help so that all of us together feel involved, with our various capacities and responsibilities, in the commitment to offer practical answers for the care and treatment of those suffering from leprosy."

  Cardinal Lozano goes on to recall how scientific and pharmacological progress now enable leprosy to be treated in its early stages, however there remain, he writes, "broad swathes of sick people and vast regions of the world that do not yet have these possibilities at the level of treatment."

  Quoting statistics of the World Health Organization, the president of the Pontifical Council enumerates the declared cases of leprosy in the world at the beginning of 2005: 47,596 in Africa, 36,877 in America, 186,182 in South East Asia, 5,398 in the Eastern Mediterranean, and 10,010 in the West Pacific. He also identifies a certain regression in the disease: "from 763,263 people suffering from leprosy in 2001, the figure fell to 407,791 in 2004." His message continues: "The just and shared satisfaction at the results that have been achieved in the fight against Hansen's disease should not mean less commitment or that the permanent needs, the endemic causes of the disease, the prejudices that still exist... should be forgotten. ... A decisive effort could be made to finally, and in every part of the world, eliminate the disease of leprosy."

  The prelate then invites national and international bodies, non-governmental organizations, and local Churches to coordinate their efforts "to respond in a more effective way to contemporary needs at the level of prevention and the treatment of people who are at risk or are already affected by leprosy." He also calls for more effective channels "for the free distribution of pharmaceuticals," and highlights "the need to create and train ... groups of social and health care workers who are able to act in the local areas, diagnosing in good time the presence of this disease and treating it."

  At the end of his message, Cardinal Lozano expresses gratitude for the efforts of Christian communities and missionaries "in the fight against the disease of leprosy and in providing loving care to people afflicted by it." He concludes by emphasizing how "the Church has always in so many countries of the world worked with total devotion to the welcoming ... and the social reintegration of those who have, or have had, leprosy. ... On January 29, in particular, we invite our communities to remember, during the Eucharistic celebration of the Total Body of Christ, the many people and families that still suffer because of the disease."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, were received by the Pope for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  In his remarks to them, the Pope recalled how part of John Paul II's vast legacy of teachings on the subject of canon law is contained in the Instruction "Dignitas connubii" concerning the procedures to be followed in causes of the nullity of marriage. "The greatest contribution of this Instruction, which I trust is fully applied by ecclesial tribunals, consists in indicating the measure and manner in which, in causes of the nullity of marriage, the norms contained in the respective canons ... should be applied, while observing the special norms for causes concerning the state of persons, or for causes concerning the public good."

  The Pope pointed out that, during last October's Synod on the Eucharist, the Synod Fathers had "called on ecclesiastical courts to make every effort to ensure that members of the faithful not canonically married may, as soon as possible, regularize their domestic situations" and so resume communion. On the other hand, he continued, "canonical legislation and the recent Instruction would seem would seem to place limits on that pastoral proposal, as if the principle concern were to fulfil the legal formalities, while losing sight of the pastoral aims of the legal process. Concealed behind such an approach is a supposed conflict between law and pastoral care in general."

  "In this my first meeting with you," Pope Benedict went on, "I prefer to concentrate on an aspect that represents the main point of agreement between law and pastoral care: love for truth." In this context, he highlighted how "the aim of a court hearing is the declaration of truth by an impartial third party," after both sides have been offered a chance to present their case "in an appropriate space for discussion. ... All legal systems must tend, then, to ensure the objectivity, timeliness and effectiveness of the judges' decisions."

  The Holy Father then proceeded to point out how the courts can find themselves dealing with matters "that lie beyond the domain of the parties concerned, in as much as [such matters] concern the rights of the entire ecclesial community." It is in this field that "causes for declaring the nullity of marriage fall. Indeed, marriage in its dual dimension - natural and sacramental - is not something of which the spouses can dispose at will nor, given its social and public character, is it possible to imagine some form of self-declaration."

  After emphasizing that "no court hearing is per se 'against' the other party, as if the aim were to inflict some form of unjust punishment," the Pope said: "The aim of the hearing is, on the contrary, to declare the truth concerning the validity or invalidity of a specific marriage; in other words to pronounce on the reality that lies at the very foundation of the institution of the family, and that is of maximum concern to the Church and to civil society."

  The Holy Father then pointed out how "the criterion of the search for truth" leads us to consider another aspect of the legal question: "its pastoral value, which cannot be separated from the love for truth. Indeed, it can happen that pastoral charity sometimes becomes contaminated by complacent attitudes towards others. Such attitudes may seem pastoral, but in reality they do not respond to the good of individuals, or to that of the ecclesial community."

  "The truth sought in causes of the nullity of marriage is not ... an abstract truth, one completely removed from the good of individuals. It is a truth that is an integral part of the human and Christian journey of each faithful. Thus, it is extremely important that the declaration [of that truth] should come about in a reasonable span of time."

  The Pope also stressed the grave obligation to "bring the institutional activity of the Church in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful," the need to "seek to prevent nullity of marriage," and the importance of "efforts to help spouses resolve their difficulties and find a way of reconciliation."

  "I hope that these reflections," he concluded, "serve to help you better understand how the love for truth links the institution of canonical causes of the nullity of marriage with the authentic pastoral sensibility that must animate such causes. Seen in this light, the Instruction 'Dignitas connubii' and the concerns that emerged from the recent Synod, are in complete harmony."
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Friday, January 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Marco Dino Brogi O.F.M., apostolic nuncio, as consultor of the Secretariat of State, in the Section for Relations with States.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., of Quebec, Canada.

  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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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the president and leaders of ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation.

  In his address to them, the Pope recalled the three "directives" the association is historically committed to put into effect. The first of these, he said, is "faithfulness to workers," affirming in this context how the Magisterium has always highlighted the human dimension of work, without overlooking "the commandment of rest. To insist, then, that Sunday does not become like all the other days of the week, is to take a stand in favor of civilization."

  The Holy Father went on: "From the primacy of the ethical dimension of human work arise other priorities: that of man over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of wealth over the right to private property; in brief, the priority of being over having."

  Benedict XVI highlighted how, in our time, science and technology "present huge possibilities for improving everyone's lives," but warned that "the misguided use of such power can provoke grave and irreparable threats to the future of life itself."

  "The defense of life - from conception to natural end - wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled underfoot, is the primary duty of an authentic ethic of responsibility, and this may be coherently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion," he said.

  The Pope then identified "faithfulness to democracy" as the second directive. "It alone can guarantee equality of rights for all. ...Justice is the testing ground of true democracy. That said, it should not be forgotten that the search for truth constitutes the essential condition for a real, not merely an apparent, democracy. 'As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'."

  The association's third directive, said the Holy Father, is "faithfulness to the Church. Only a willing and passionate adherence to the [Church] can guarantee the identity necessary to ensure a presence in all areas of society and the world, without losing the flavor and fragrance of the Gospel."

  "As lay people and associated Christian workers," the Pope concluded, "always take care over the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called. ... Remain courageously present in all crucial areas of social life."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have just concluded their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address to them, the Pope recalled the "deep scars left in people's memory," by the bloody conflicts that have lacerated the country over the last few years, and praised Congolese bishops for calling on local leaders "to demonstrate their responsibility and courage, so that people may live in peace and security." The Pope encouraged the episcopal conference to "accompany the progress currently being made."

  The Holy Father made frequent reference to the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," the tenth anniversary of which was celebrated in 2005. "In calling that synodal assembly," said Benedict XVI, "John Paul II wished to promote an organic form of pastoral solidarity for the African continent, so that the Church can bring a credible message of faith, hope and charity to all men and women of good will, and give a new missionary impulse to particular Churches." He also recalled how certain dioceses are celebrating their first centenary of evangelization, an anniversary that provides a good occasion "to renew the apostolic enthusiasm of pastors and faithful," and for "moral, spiritual and material reconstruction to unite communities into one family, a sign of fraternity for your contemporaries."

  The Holy Father continued his address to the bishops: "You have highlighted the need to work for a profound evangelization of the faithful. The living and vibrant ecclesiastical communities in all your dioceses well reflect this 'hands-on' evangelization which makes the faithful ever more mature in their faith, in a spirit of evangelical fraternity that brings them to reflect together on the various aspects of ecclesiastical life. These communities also constitute a valuable bulwark against the onslaught of sects, which exploit the credulity of the faithful and lead them astray by proposing a false vision of salvation and of the Gospel, and loose morals."

  Benedict XVI stressed the need for "the permanent formation of the leaders of these communities, especially of catechists," and the importance that such groups "not only welcome the Gospel of Christ, but that they bear witness to Him before human beings. ... In these times, that are so important for the important for the life of your country, the lay faithful must be reminded of the urgent need to begin the renewal of the temporal world, calling them to 'bring to bear upon the social fabric an influence aimed at changing not only ways of thinking but also the very structures of society, so that they will better reflect God's plan for the human family'."

  The Pope then expressed his appreciation for all the priests and male and female religious who work on the African continent. "I am aware," he said, "of the difficult conditions in which many of them exercise their mission," and gave thanks for their "frequently heroic service." On this subject, he invited the bishops to watch over "the excellence of the moral and spiritual life of priests, particularly reminding them of the unique bond that ties the priest to Christ, of which priestly celibacy, lived in perfect chastity, is an expression of profundity and vitality."

  The Pope encouraged the Congolese prelates to "continue to develop the bonds of communion with your diocesan presbyterium," bearing in mind the fact that in the country "long-term conflicts have sometimes had negative repercussions on the unity of the presbyterium, favoring tribalism and power struggles, bringing fateful consequences for the construction of the Body of Christ and confusion to the faithful."

  "I exhort you all to rediscover the deep-rooted fraternity that is particular to priests," said the Holy Father, inviting the bishops to encourage priests "to exercise fraternal charity, particularly by offering them certain forms of communal life, in order to help them grow in sanctity and in faithfulness to their vocation and mission, and in full communion with you bishops."

  "At the end of our meeting," the Pope concluded, "I invite you to hope. For more than a century the Good News has been announced in your land. ... May your communities, supported by the witnesses to the faith in your country - especially Blesseds Marie-Clementine Anuarite Nengapeta and Isidore Bakanja - be prophetic signs of a humanity renewed in Christ, a humanity liberated from rancor and fear!"
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Thursday, January 26, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Archbishop-bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Italy.

 - Bishop Joseph Bolangi Egwanga Ediba Tasame of Budjala, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo O.F.M., minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2006 (VIS) - The third meeting of the joint international commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches is due to be held at the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin, Armenia, from January 26 to 30. Created in 2003, the commission has thus far celebrated two meetings, the first in Cairo, Egypt in 2004, and the second in Rome last year.

  At the invitation of the Catholicos of all Armenia, Karekin II, the meeting will be attended by two delegations, one Catholic and one Orthodox, headed respectively by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

  According to a communique made public today, the program includes "three themes for study and dialogue, all related to the central theme of the Church as communion: bishops in the apostolic succession; the relationship between primacy and collegiality; and the working and ecclesiological importance of synods at the local and ecumenical level."

  The communique also reveals that, from January 31 to February 4, Cardinal Kasper, accompanied by Fr. Jozef M. Maj S.J., an official at the oriental section of the same pontifical council, will visit Georgia.

  The visit to Georgia, the first by a president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 15 years, comes in response to an invitation to visit the local Catholic community issued by Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, apostolic administrator of Caucasus of the Latins. The cardinal will also hold an official meeting with His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia, primate of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

  In addition to delivering a talk on the subject of relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Cardinal Kasper will preside at a Eucharistic celebration in the presence of local faithful, later participating in an ecumenical prayer at the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Tbilisi, Georgia. The president of the pontifical council is also due to visit an ecclesiastical academy, as well as the most important shrines and centers of monastic life of the Orthodox Church.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of the preparatory commission of the third European Ecumenical Assembly, telling them: "Your visit provides a further occasion to shed light upon the links of communion that bind us to Christ, and to renew the will to work together, so that full unity may come as soon as possible."

  The Pope then greeted the representatives, who come from European ecumenical organizations, and expressed his joy at meeting them again after the closing ceremony of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which he presided yesterday in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

  "You have begun your European ecumenical pilgrimage - which will culminate in the gathering at Sibiu, Romania, in September 2007 - from here in Rome," he said, "site of the preaching and martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul. This is extremely significant because the Apostles were the first to announce the Gospel to us, that Gospel which, as Christians, we are called to proclaim and bear witness to in today's Europe."

  The Pope then mentioned the theme of this forthcoming spiritual itinerary - "the light of Christ illuminates everyone. Hope of renewal and unity in Europe" - before going on to observe that in order for the process of unification of the continent to be fruitful, Europe must "find room for the ethical values which make up part of its vast and well-consolidated spiritual heritage."

  "Nonetheless, our presence as Christians will prove incisive and enlightening only if we have the courage to continue decisively down the path of reconciliation and unity. ... Everyone must show such strength, ... because we all have a specific responsibility towards the ecumenical progress of Christians on our continent and in the rest of the world.

  "Since the fall of the wall dividing Eastern and Western Europe, the meeting between peoples has become easier, ... and a need is being felt to face the great challenges of the present time in a united fashion, beginning with the challenges of modernity and secularization."

  The Pope closed his address by recalling how "experience amply demonstrates that sincere and fraternal dialogue generates trust, eliminates fears and preconceived notions, removes difficulties and opens the way to serene and constructive dialogue."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Benedict XVI presided at the second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The ceremony marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which was: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

  In his homily, the Pope affirmed that "the aspiration of all Christian communities and of each individual faithful to unity, and the strength to achieve it, are gifts of the Holy Spirit, and go hand in hand with an ever more profound and radical faithfulness to the Gospel. We realize that conversion of heart lies at the base of ecumenical commitment."

  Recalling the title of his first Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," the Holy Father stated: "God is Love. Upon this firm rock the entire faith of the Church rests. ... Fixing our gaze on this truth, the peak of divine revelation, divisions, while maintaining their painful magnitude, appear surmountable and do not discourage us."

  "True love," he went on, "does not cancel legitimate differences, but harmonizes them into a higher unity, one that is not imposed from outside, but that from within gives form, so to say, to the whole."

  Benedict XVI then indicated that "the longed-for achievement of unity depends, in the first instance, upon the will of God, Whose design and generosity surpass man's understanding, even exceeding his requests and expectations. By relying on divine goodness, we intensify our common prayer for unity, which is a necessary and highly effective instrument."

  "Unity is our shared mission; it is the condition necessary for the light of Christ to spread more effectively all over the world, that men and women may be converted and saved."

  After highlighting the fact that much still remains to be done, Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "Let us not lose faith, rather let us resume the journey with greater energy. Christ goes before us and accompanies us. We rely upon His unfailing presence; from Him we implore, humbly and tirelessly, the precious gift of unity and peace."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo I.M.C., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nairobi, Kenya, as apostolic vicar of Isiolo (area 25,605, population 116,900, Catholics 27,300, priests 21, religious 38), Kenya.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls today released a declaration to journalists to the effect that "the Holy Father Benedict XVI has designated Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, as head of the Holy See delegation to the funeral of Ibrahim Rugova, president of Kosovo." The funeral is due to be held tomorrow Thursday, January 26.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - In the general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 8,000 people, Benedict XVI recalled that today is the concluding day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He then turned to his catechesis, which was dedicated to the second part of Psalm 143: "The king's prayer."

  The psalm, said the Pope, "sings of the final goal of history, when the voice of evil will finally be silent." It also makes mentions "of evildoers, seen as oppressors of the people of God and of their faith. But this negative aspect is followed by the positive, to which far greater space is dedicated, that of the new and joyful world that is about to come into being. This is the true 'shalom,' the messianic 'peace,' a luminous horizon expressed in a series of images drawn from daily life: for us too, these can become an expression of hope for a more just society."

  Among these images is that of "the family based on the vitality of the generations," and that of "economic life, the countryside and crops," and finally "the city, in other words the entire civil community finally enjoying the precious gift of peace and of public order."

  "This picture of a different but possible world is entrusted to the work of the Messiah and of His people. All together we can put this project of peace and harmony into effect, bringing an end to the destructive action of hatred, violence and war. However, it is necessary to make a choice, taking the side of God, of love and of justice." The reference here, the Holy Father concluded, is "to the new covenant announced by the prophets and consummated in Christ, to the new man, to the hallelujah of a life renewed and redeemed, to the novelty of Christ and His Gospel."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is a summary of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, entitled "Deus caritas est" (God is love). Dated December 25, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, it considers the question of Christian love.

  The Encyclical is divided into two long parts. The first, entitled, "The Unity of Love in Creation and in Salvation History," presents a theological-philosophical reflection on "love" in its various dimensions - "eros," "philia," and "agape" - highlighting certain vital aspects of God's love for man and the inherent links that such love has with human love. The second part, entitled "The Practice of Love by the Church as a 'Community of Love'," concerns the concrete implementation of the commandment to love others.


  The term "love" - one of the most used, and abused, words in today's world - has a vast field of meaning. In this multiplicity of meanings, however, the archetype of love par excellence that emerges is that between man and woman, which in ancient Greece was given the name of "eros." In the Bible, and above all in the New Testament, the concept of "love" is rendered more profound, a development expressed by the rejection of the word "eros" in favor of the term "agape" to express oblate love.

  This new view of love, an essential novelty of Christianity, has not infrequently been considered in a completely negative sense as the refusal of "eros" and of all things corporeal. Although there have been tendencies of this nature, the meaning of this development is quite different. "Eros," placed in the nature of man by his Creator, needs discipline, purification and maturity in order not to lose its original dignity, and not be degraded to the level of being pure "sex," becoming a mere commodity.

  The Christian faith has always considered man as a being in whom spirit and matter are mutually intertwined, drawing from this a new nobility. The challenge of "eros" may be said to have been overcome when man's body and soul are in perfect harmony. Then love truly becomes "ecstasy," but not ecstasy in the sense of a passing moment of euphoria, but as a permanent departure from the "I" closed within itself towards freedom in the giving of self and, precisely in this way, towards the rediscovery of self, or rather, towards the discovery of God. In this way, "eros" can raise the human being "in ecstasy" towards the Divine.

  Ultimately what is necessary is that "eros" and "agape" never be completely separated from one another; indeed, the greater the extent to which the two - though in different dimensions - find their right equilibrium, the more the true nature of love is realized. Although initially "eros" is, above all, desire, in approaching the other person it will ask ever fewer questions about itself and seek ever more happiness in the other, it will give itself and desire to "be there" for the other. Thus the one becomes part of the other and the moment of "agape" is achieved.

  In Jesus Christ, Who is the incarnate love of God, "eros-agape" achieves its most radical form. In His death on the cross, Jesus, giving Himself to raise and save mankind, expressed love in its most sublime form. Jesus ensured a lasting presence for this act of giving through the institution of the Eucharist, in which, under the species of bread and wine, He gives Himself as a new manna uniting us to Him. By participating in the Eucharist, we too become involved in the dynamics of His act of giving. We unite ourselves to Him, and at the same time unite ourselves with everyone else to whom He gives Himself. Thus we all become "a single body." In this way, love for God and love for others are truly fused together. The dual commandment, thanks to this encounter with the "agape" of God, is no longer just a requirement: love can be "commanded," because first it was given.


  Love for others rooted in the love of God, in addition to being the duty of each individual faithful, is also the duty of the entire ecclesial community, which in its charitable activities must reflect Trinitarian love. An awareness of this duty has been of fundamental importance in the Church ever since her beginnings; and very soon the need became clear for a certain degree of organization as a basis for a more effective realization of those activities.

  Thus, within the fundamental structure of the Church, the "deaconry" emerged as a service of love towards others, a love exercised collectively and in an ordered fashion: a concrete service, but at the same time a spiritual one. With the progressive growth of the Church, the practice of charity was confirmed as being one of her essential aspects. The Church's intimate nature is thus expressed in a triple duty: announcing the Word of God ("kerygma-martyria"), celebrating the Sacraments ("leiturgia"), and the service of charity ("diakonia"). These duties are inherent to one another and cannot be separated.

  Beginning in the nineteenth century, a fundamental objection was raised against the Church's charitable activity. Such activity, it was said, runs counter to justice and ends up by preserving the status quo. By carrying out individual acts of charity, the reasoning went, the Church favors the preservation of the existing unjust system, making it in some way bearable and thus hindering rebellion and potential transformation to a better world.

  In this way, Marxism sought to indicate in world revolution, and in the preparations for such revolution, a panacea for social ills; a dream that has since been shattered. Pontifical Magisterium - beginning with Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum" (1891), and later with John Paul II's three social Encyclicals: "Laborem exercens" (1981), "Sollicitudo rei socialis" (1987), and "Centesimus annus" (1991) - has considered the social question with growing attention and, in facing ever new problems, has developed a highly complex social doctrine, proposing guidelines that are valid well beyond the confines of the Church.

  The creation of a just order in society and the State is the primary duty of politics, and therefore cannot be the immediate task of the Church. Catholic social doctrine does not want to give the Church power over the State, but simply to purify and illuminate reason, offering its own contribution to the formation of consciences so that the true requirements of justice may be perceived, recognized and put into effect. Nonetheless, there is no State legislation, however just it may be, that can make the service of love superfluous. The State that wishes to provide for everything becomes a bureaucratic machine, incapable of ensuring that essential contribution of which suffering man - all mankind - has need: loving personal dedication. Whoever wants to dispose of love, seeks to dispose of man.

  In our own time, one positive collateral effect of globalization appears in the fact that concern for others, overcoming the confines of national communities, tends to broaden the horizons of the whole world. Structures of State and humanitarian associations both support, in various ways, the solidarity expressed by civil society; thus, many charitable and philanthropic organizations have come into being. In the Catholic Church too, as in other ecclesial communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen. It is to be hoped that fruitful collaboration may be established between these various elements. Of course, it is important that the Church's charitable work does not lose its own identity, lost against the background of widespread organized charity of which it is simply another alternative. Rather it must maintain all the splendor of the essence of Christian and ecclesial charity. Therefore:

  Christian charitable activity, apart from its professional competence, must be based on the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, Whose love touched believers' hearts, generating within them love for others.

  Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. The program of Christians - the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus - is a "heart that sees." This heart sees where there is need of love and acts accordingly.

  Christian charitable activity, furthermore, must not be a function of that which today is called proselytism. Love is gratuitous, it is not exercised in order to achieve other goals. However, this does not mean that charitable activity must, so to say, leave God and Christ on one side. Christians know when the time is right to speak of God, and when it is right to be silent and let love alone speak. St. Paul's hymn of charity must be the "Magna Charta" for the entire ecclesial service, protecting it from the risk of degrading into mere activism.

  In this context, and faced with the impending secularism that also risks conditioning many Christians committed to charitable work, we must reaffirm the importance of prayer. Living contact with Christ ensures that the immensity of need coupled with the limits of individual activity do not, on the one hand, push charity workers into ideologies that seek to do now that which God, apparently, does not manage to do or, on the other, serve as a temptation to surrender to inertia and resignation. Those who pray do not waste their time, although a situation may seem to call only for action, nor do they seek to change and correct God's plan. Rather they aim - following the example of Mary and the saints - to draw from God the light and the strength of love that defeats all the darkness and selfishness present in the world.

  To read the full text of the Encyclical, click here
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical "Deus caritas est." Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

  In his remarks, Cardinal Martino made reference to that part of the Encyclical in which the Pope considers the relationship between justice and charity, and indicates certain points concerning the field of jurisdiction of the Church and her social doctrine, and the jurisdiction of the State, in achieving a just social order.

  After highlighting how the building of social and State order is not immediately incumbent upon the Church but rather upon the political sphere, the Pope points out that "the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically."

  The Holy Father, Cardinal Martino went on, "affirms that, in building a just social order, the duty of the Church with her social doctrine is that of reawakening spiritual and moral forces." In this context, he continued, "lay people, as citizens of the State, are called to participate directly in public life." Their mission "is to mould social life appropriately, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens, according to their respective areas of jurisdiction, each under their own responsibility."

  "The presence of lay people in the social field," the cardinal continued, "is here conceived in terms of service, a sign and expression of charity which is made manifest in family, cultural, working, economic and political life."

  For his part, Archbishop Levada affirmed that the Encyclical, is "a powerful text on the 'nucleus of Christian faith,' understood as the Christian image of God and the image of man that derives from it. A powerful text that seeks to counter the erroneous use of the name of God, and the ambiguity concerning the word 'love' that is so evident in the world today."

  "In order to explain the novelty of Christian love, the Holy Father seeks first to illustrate the difference and unity between two concepts inherent to the phenomenon of love from the times of the ancient Greeks: 'eros' and 'agape'." These two concepts "do not oppose one another, but come harmoniously together to offer a realistic concept of human love, a love that involves the entirety - body and soul - of the human being. 'Agape' prevents 'eros' from abandoning itself to instinct, while 'eros' offers 'agape' the fundamental and vital relationships of human existence."

  The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith then went on to point out how "in the indissoluble marriage between man and woman this human love takes a form that is rooted in creation itself."

  "Love for others, rooted in the love of God, is the duty, not only of each individual faithful, but also - and here we come to the second part of the Encyclical - of the entire community of believers, in other words the Church. From the historical development of the ecclesial aspect of love, which dates back to the very origins of the Church, we may draw two conclusions: firstly that the service of charity is part of the essence of the Church, secondly that no one must lack what they need, either within or outside the Church."

  In his Encyclical the Pope, Archbishop Levada added, "offers some illuminating comments on certain aspects of the Church's service of charity - 'diakonia' - in modern times. He responds to the objection according to which charity towards the poor is an obstacle to the fair distribution of the wealth of the earth to all mankind."

  At the same time the Pope "praises new forms of fruitful collaboration between State and Church bodies, making reference to the phenomenon of voluntary work."

  In summing up the Encyclical, Archbishop Levada pointed out how it "offers us a vision of love for others, and of the ecclesial duty to practice charity, as being a way to implement the commandment of love, one that finds its roots in the essence of God Himself, Who is Love." The document, he concluded, "invites the Church to a renewed commitment to the service of charity ('diakonia') as an essential part of her existence and her mission."

  The last to speak was Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, who highlighted how "today's text is the first ever Encyclical on the subject of charity." Perhaps, he suggested, the presentation had also been entrusted to him as president of "Cor Unum" because his dicastery "puts into effect the Pope's personal initiatives as a sign of his compassion in the face of certain situations of misery."

  "The Church's charity is made up of concrete initiatives," said the archbishop. "It includes political initiatives, such as those for the elimination of debt of the poorest countries. We wish to promote an awareness of justice in society." However, he went on, "Pope Benedict XVI [also] wished to illuminate charitable commitment with a theological foundation. ... He is convinced that faith has consequences on the individual who acts, and therefore on the manner and intensity of his acts of charity."

  "The social doctrine of the Church and the theology of charity are, without doubt, inter-linked," the prelate said, "but they are not exactly the same. Indeed, the former expresses ethical principles associated with the search for the common good and moves, therefore, more at a political and community level. On the other hand, caring - both individually and together - for the suffering of others does not call for a systematic doctrine. Rather, it arises from the word of faith."

  "In our society there exists, fortunately, a widespread feeling of philanthropy, ... but this can give the faithful the idea that charity is not an essential part of the ecclesial mission. Without a solid theological foundation, the great ecclesial agencies could become ... disassociated from the Church, [and] ... prefer to identify themselves as non-governmental organizations. In such cases, their 'philosophy' and their projects would be indistinguishable from the Red Cross and the U.N. agencies. This, however, contrasts with the two-thousand-year history of the Church, and does not take into account the intimate rapport between ecclesial action on behalf of man and credibility in the announcement of the Gospel."

  "We must go further," Archbishop Cordes concluded, "the present sensibility of so many people, especially the young, also contains a 'kairos apostolico.' This opens notable pastoral prospects. There are innumerable volunteers, and many of them discover the love of God in the giving of themselves to others with disinterested love."
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid of the clergy of the archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia, official at the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Medellin (area 708, population 3,012,847, Catholics 2,625,494, priests 909, permanent deacons 39, religious 3,661). The bishop-elect was born in Bello, Colombia in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Msgr. Nicola Girasoli, counsellor at the apostolic nunciature to Argentina, as apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, at the same time raising him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Ruvo, Italy in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1980.

 - Msgr. Jean Laffitte, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent, in the name of Benedict XVI, by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano to Bishop Zef Gashi S.D.B., apostolic administrator of Prizren, Srbija i Crna Gora, for the death last Saturday, January 21, of Ibrahim Rugova, president of Kosovo.

  "Having learned the sad news of the death of President Ibrahim Rugova, the Supreme Pontiff charges Your Excellency to offer his heartfelt condolences for the bereavement that has struck the people and government of Kosovo; at the same time, he gives assurances of his spiritual closeness at this moment of trial. In recalling the solid civic virtues that inspired the life of the dear departed, and his generous service to his fellow citizens, His Holiness calls on God to bring down abundant blessings upon the beloved inhabitants of Kosovo."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today, Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, was Benedict XVI's first Message for the World Day of Social Communications, which this year is due to be celebrated on May 28, on the theme: "The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation."

  The Holy Father's Message has been published in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Extracts from the English language version are given below:

  "Technological advances in the media have in certain respects conquered time and space, making communication between people, even when separated by vast distances, both instantaneous and direct. This development presents an enormous potential for service of the common good. Yet, ... daily we are reminded that immediacy of communication does not necessarily translate into the building of cooperation and communion in society.

  "To inform the consciences of individuals and help shape their thinking is never a neutral task. Authentic communication demands principled courage and resolve. It requires a determination of those working in the media not to wilt under the weight of so much information nor even to be content with partial or provisional truths. Instead it necessitates both seeking and transmitting what is the ultimate foundation and meaning of human, personal and social existence. In this way the media can contribute constructively to the propagation of all that is good and true.

  "The call for today's media to be responsible - to be the protagonist of truth and promoter of the peace that ensues - carries with it a number of challenges. While the various instruments of social communication facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and mutual understanding among groups, they are also tainted by ambiguity. ... Certain tendencies within the media engender a kind of monoculture that dims creative genius, deflates the subtlety of complex thought and undervalues the specificity of cultural practices and the particularity of religious belief. These are distortions that occur when the media industry becomes self-serving or solely profit-driven, losing the sense of accountability to the common good.

  "Accurate reporting of events, full explanation of matters of public concern, and fair representation of diverse points of view must, then, always be fostered. The need to uphold and support marriage and family life is of particular importance, precisely because it pertains to the foundation of every culture and society. In cooperation with parents, the social communications and entertainment industries can assist in the difficult but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting edifying models of human life and love."

  "To encourage both a constructive presence and a positive perception of the media in society, I wish to reiterate the importance of three steps, identified by my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, necessary for the service of the common good: formation, participation, and dialogue.

  "Formation in the responsible and critical use of the media helps people to use them intelligently and appropriately. ... Precisely because contemporary media shape popular culture, they themselves must overcome any temptation to manipulate, especially the young, and instead pursue the desire to form and serve. In this way they protect rather than erode the fabric of a civil society worthy of the human person.

  "Participation in the mass media arises from their nature as a good destined for all people. As a public service, social communication requires a spirit of cooperation and co-responsibility with vigorous accountability of the use of public resources and the performance of roles of public trust, including recourse to regulatory standards and other measures or structures designed to effect this goal.

  "Finally, the promotion of dialogue through the exchange of learning, the expression of solidarity and the espousal of peace presents a great opportunity for the mass media which must be recognized and exercised. In this way they become influential and appreciated resources for building the civilization of love for which all peoples yearn.

  "I am confident that serious efforts to promote these three steps will assist the media to develop soundly as a network of communication, communion and cooperation, helping men, women and children, to become more aware of the dignity of the human person, more responsible, and more open to others especially the neediest and the weakest members of society."

  In conclusion, the Pope recalls the "encouraging words of St. Paul: 'Christ is our peace. In Him we are one.' Let us together break down the dividing walls of hostility and build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator made known through His Son!"
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Monday, January 23, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Bamenda, Cameroon, presented by Archbishop Paul Verdzehov, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua.

  On Saturday, January 21, it was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Hanoi, Vietnam, presented by Bishop Paul Le Dac Trong, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Smaragde Mbonyintege, rector of the major seminary of Nyakibanda, as bishop of Kabgayi (area 2,187, population 912,000, Catholics 550,000, priests 114, religious 269), Rwanda. The bishop-elect was born in Rutobwe-Gitarama, Rwanda in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Appointed Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, as apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches.

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba of Mweka.

    - Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe.

 On Saturday, January 21, he received in separate audiences:

 - Eight prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Ignace Matondo Kwa Nzambi C.I.C.M., of Molegbe.

    - Archbishop Godefroy Mukeng'a Kalond C.I.C.M., of Kananga, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Marcel Madila.

    - Bishop Valentin Masengo Nkinda of Kabinda.

    - Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena O.F.M., of Kole.

    - Bishop Leonard Kasanda Lumembu C.I.C.M., of Luiza.

    - Bishop Tharcisse Tshibangu Tshishiku of Mbujimayi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Emmanuel Kasanda Mulenga.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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FOR THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE WINTER OLYMPICS, due to be held in February in the city of Turin and other areas of the Italian Piedmont region, Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of that city. The Holy Father expresses the hope that the forthcoming event may be "an eloquent sign of friendship," and that it "may help to reinforce relations of intense solidarity among peoples." The message continues: "How can we not recognize the need of this in our own times, in which humanity is marked by no small amount of tension, and is eager to build a future of authentic peace?"

CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE ANGELO SODANO sent, in the Holy Father's name, a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Frantisek Rabek, military ordinary of Slovakia, for the recent crash of a Slovak military aircraft near Kosice. The accident, on January 19, cost the lives of many soldiers, returning to their country at the end of a peace-keeping mission in Kosovo, among them the military chaplain, Msgr. Michal Stang.
.../IN BRIEF/...                                    VIS 20060123 (180)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI participated in a congress organized by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum." The event is being held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on January 23 and 24, and its theme, taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, is: " ... But the greatest of these is love."

  In his address, the Holy Father made frequent reference to his first Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," which is due to be published on Wednesday, January 25.

  "The cosmic journey in which Dante, in his 'Divine Comedy,' wishes to involve the reader," the Pope began, "ends before the eternal light that is God Himself, before that Light which is, at the same time, 'the love that moves the sun and the other stars'."

  The God Who appears in Dante's central circle of light "has a human face and, we may add, a human heart. Dante's vision shows the continuity between the Christian faith in God and research based on reason; ... at the same time, however, there appears a novelty that goes beyond all human research: ... the novelty of a love that impelled God to assume a human face, to take on flesh and blood. ... The 'eros' of God is not just a primordial cosmic force, it is the love that created human beings and stretches reaches out towards them."

  "The word 'love,' is so overused today," the Pope continued, "that one is almost afraid to pronounce it. Yet, ... it is the expression of a primordial reality, ... and we must retrieve it, ... so that it may illuminate our lives. ... This awareness is what induced me to choose love as the theme of my first Encyclical. I wanted to try and express, for our own times and our own lives, something of that which Dante encapsulated in his vision."

  Faith should become "a vision-understanding that transforms us," said the Holy Father. "I wanted to highlight the centrality of faith in God, in the God Who assumed a human face and a human heart. ... In an age in which ... we are witnessing the abuse of religion even unto the apotheosis of hatred, ... we have need of the living God Who loved us even unto death. Thus, in this Encyclical, the themes of God, Christ and Love are fused together as a central guide to the Christian faith."

  "A first reading of the Encyclical could perhaps give rise to the impression that it is divided into two parts with little in common between them: a first theoretical part discussing the essence of love, and a second part covering ecclesial charity and charitable organizations. Yet I was interested precisely in the unity between the two themes, only if seen as a single thing can they be properly understood. ... On the basis of the Christian image of God, it was necessary to show how man was created to love, and how this love, which initially appears above all as 'eros' between man and woman, must then be internally transformed into 'agape,' into the giving of self to others."

  "On this basis, it was necessary to clarify how the essence of the love for God and for others, ... is the core of Christian life, the fruit of faith." Then, "in the second part, it was necessary to highlight that the totally personal act of 'agape' can never remain a purely individual issue, rather it must also become an essential act of the Church as community; in other words, it also needs the institutional form that finds expression in the community activity of the Church."

  The Pope concluded: "The ecclesial organization of charity is not a form of social assistance, a casual addition to the reality of the Church. ... Rather, it is part of the nature of the Church, ... [and] must in some way make the living God visible. ... The spectacle of suffering man touches our hearts. But charitable commitment has a meaning that goes well beyond simple philanthropy. It is God Himself Who encourages us from within our most intimate selves to alleviate misery. ... It is He Himself Whom we carry into a suffering world. The greater the awareness and clarity with which we bear Him as a gift, the more effectively will our love change the world."
AC/ENCYCLICAL:LOVE/COR UNUM                    VIS 20060123 (740)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2006 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, provided the main theme of Benedict XVI's reflections prior to praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope explained how the Prayer Week initiative had begun in the early years of the twentieth century and has now become "an ecumenical point of reference in which Christians from various confessions all over the world pray and reflect, on the basis of a single biblical text." He went on to recall how this year's theme comes from the Gospel of Matthew: "If two or three of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

  The Pope continued: "How much faith and how much hope do these words of the Lord Jesus infuse! In particular, they encourage Christians to ask God together for that full unity among them, for which Christ Himself ... prayed to the Father during the Last Supper. It is easy to understand, then, why we Christians invoke the gift of unity. ... If we do so with faith, we may be sure that our request will be satisfied. We do not know how, nor when, because it is not for us to know these things, but we must not doubt that one day we will be 'a single thing,' just as Jesus and the Father are united in the Holy Spirit.

  "Prayer for unity," he said, "constitutes the soul of the ecumenical movement, which ... is developing throughout the world. Of course, there is no shortage of difficulties and trials, but even these are not without spiritual benefits because they encourage us to exercise patience and perseverance, and to grow in fraternal charity. God is love, and only by converting to Him and accepting His Word will we find ourselves united in the single mystical Body of Christ."

  "The expression 'God is love,' which in Latin is 'Deus caritas est'," Benedict XVI concluded, "is the title of my first Encyclical, which will be published this Wednesday, January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I am pleased that it coincides with the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. That day I will go to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls to preside at Vespers in which representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities will also participate."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope mentioned the situation of African countries, in particular Cote d'Ivoire "where serious tension persists among the various social and political groups of the country. To everyone I address an appeal to continue with constructive dialogue, with a view to reconciliation and peace. I entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, so much beloved by the people of the Cote d'Ivoire."
ANG/CHRISTIAN UNITY:ENCYCLICAL/...                VIS 20060123 (510)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2006 (VIS) - Today marks the fifth centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and at midday, during the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his thanks for the service they have provided over the centuries.

  In the presence of several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square, among them a 70-strong troop of the Guards wearing gala uniform, the Pope recalled how "500 years ago, on January 22, 1506, Pope Julius II welcomed and blessed the first contingent of Swiss Guards, come to Rome to ensure the defense of his person and of the Apostolic Palace. Thus the Pontifical Swiss Guard was born.

  "In recalling that historic event, it is my pleasure today to greet the members of this blessed corps, upon whom, as a sign of appreciation and recognition, I impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing."

  Prior to the Angelus, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State and dean of the College of Cardinals, had presided at a Mass celebrated in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to mark the beginning of the 500th anniversary celebrations.

  Cardinal Sodano recalled the solemn vow that new recruits to the Swiss Guard make on May 6 each year to "serve faithfully, loyally and honorably the Supreme Pontiff and his legitimate successors with all your strength, sacrificing, when necessary, even your lives in his defense."

  After recalling how 150 Swiss Guards entered Rome to defend the See of Peter on that January 22 of 500 years ago, Cardinal Sodano quoted a phrase the Swiss Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli pronounced while he was still a member of the Catholic Church: "The Swiss see the sad situation of the Church of God, Mother of Christianity, and realize how grave and dangerous it is that any tyrant, avid for wealth, can assault with impunity, the common Mother of Christianity."

  "Even today," the cardinal went on, "these words serve to remind the Swiss Guard of that higher inspiration which must stimulate their service as, with the eyes of faith, they see in each Roman Pontiff the principle of the visible unity of the Holy Church of God."

  Cardinal Sodano concluded by inviting the Swiss Guard, in remembrance of this solemn anniversary, to have "ever greater love for the Church of Christ."
ANG/SWISS GUARD CENTENARY/SODANO                VIS 20060123 (390)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, in keeping with the tradition for today's feast of St. Agnes, the Pope today blessed two lambs, the wool of which will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The pallium is a white woolen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn over the shoulders and has two hanging pieces, front and back. Worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops, the pallium symbolizes authority and expresses the special bond between the bishops and the Roman Pontiff.
.../BLESSING LAMBS:PALLIUM/...                        VIS 20060123 (130)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Archbishop Alapati Lui Mata'eliga of Samoa-Apia, for the demise of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u S.M., archbishop emeritus of the same see, who died on Friday, January 20, at the age of 82:

  "Having learned with sorrow of the death of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u S.M., I offer heartfelt condolences to you and all the clergy, religious and laity of the archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, together with the members of the Society of Mary. I also extend my sympathy to the civic authorities of the region and indeed all the peoples of the Pacific, for whom the late cardinal has been a towering figure of unwavering commitment to the truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this time of deep mourning I join with you in praying that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God our merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of heaven. To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

Friday, January 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Ivan Tilak Jayasundera of the clergy of the diocese of Kandy, Sri Lanka, professor of liturgy at the major national seminary of Kandy, as bishop of Ratnapura (area 4,968, population 1,787,938, Catholics 19,532, priests 34, religious 70), Sri Lanka. The bishop-elect was born in Kandy in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1985.
NER/.../JAYASUNDERA                            VIS 20060120 (70)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Joseph Kumuondala Mbimba of Mbandaka-Bikoro.

    - Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku of Basankusu.

    - Bishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu O.F.M. Cap., of Bokungu-Ikela.

    - Bishop Louis Nkinga Bondala C.I.C.M., of Lisala.

    - Bishop Ferdinand Maemba Liwoke of Lolo.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AL:AP/.../...                                    VIS 20060120 (100)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2006 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, today participated in the second meeting of the organizational committee for the World Congress on Catholic Television. The committee meeting was held in the Vatican's Palazzo San Carlo.

  In his speech to the committee the archbishop recalled that, although there are many "Catholic television initiatives, there are often insufficient resources in programming, finance or trained personnel to keep them all in operation.    One of the factors that seem to be missing is coordination and, indeed, cooperation."

  The archbishop went on: "Because of the nature of our universal responsibility as the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, we thought it might be a good idea to respond to requests from around the world to be a forum for planning and, indeed, helping to implement such coordination and cooperation. ... In no field more than broadcasting and telecasting is there more need for networking: networking so that common programming can be offered throughout the world, networking so that training facilities can be offered on an international basis, networking so that ideas and programs can be shared."

  "May our planning and our eventual congress help Catholic television to be a type of nervous system for the Church," the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications concluded, "a system which helps to inform, to energize ... the Church to an ever more perfect unity and to the continuing work of evangelization."
CON-CS/TELEVISION CONGRESS/FOLEY                VIS 20060120 (260)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the rector and students of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the "Almo Collegio Capranica," on the eve of the feast day of their patroness, St Agnes. The "Almo Collegio" forms students to the priesthood for Rome, other Italian dioceses and the rest of the world.

  The Pope called on the seminarians to use their formative years to take advantage "of every opportunity to bear effective witness to the Gospel among the men and women of our time."

  He continued: "In order to respond to the expectations of modern society, and to cooperate in the immense evangelical activity that involves all Christians, there is need for well-trained and courageous priests who, without ambition or fear but convinced of gospel truth, make the announcement of Christ their first concern and, in His name, are ready to reach out to human suffering, bringing the comfort of God's love and the warmth of the ecclesial family to everyone, especially the poor and those undergoing difficulties."

  The Holy Father then highlighted how this requires, "together with human maturity and close adherence to revealed truth, which the Magisterium of the Church faithfully reflects, a serious commitment to personal sanctity and the exercise of virtue, especially humility and charity. It is also necessary to nurture communion with the various elements of the People of God, so that everyone may have a growing awareness of belonging to the one Body of Christ."

  "That all this may happen, I invite you to keep your gaze fixed on Christ. ... The more you remain in communion with Him, the more able you will be faithfully to follow His footsteps so that, 'love which binds every thing together in perfect harmony,' brings your love for the Lord to maturity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

  Benedict XVI concluded by calling on those present to follow the example of committed priests, former seminarians of the "Almo Collegio," who "have produced abundant fruits of knowledge and goodness in the Lord's vineyard."
AC/.../ALMO COLLEGIO CAPRANICA                    VIS 20060120 (350)

Thursday, January 19, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Gunther H. Oettinger, minister-president of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Vladimir Gradev, Bulgarian ambassador, on his farewell visit.

 - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

    - Bishop Gaspard Mudiso S.V.D., of Kenge.

    - Bishop Edouard Mununu Kasiala O.C.S.O., of Kikwit.

    - Bishop Fidele Nsielele Zi Mputu of Kisantu

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

    - Bishop Gabriel Kembo Mamputu of Matadi.

    - Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka.
AP:AL/.../...                                    VIS 20060119 (130)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - In the Sistine Chapel at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday January 22, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will preside at Mass for the 110 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families. The ceremony will mark the beginning of commemorative celebrations for the fifth centenary of the world's oldest active military corps.

  At the same time, in the cathedral of St. Nicholas in Fribourg, Switzerland, the Swiss Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier O.P. will preside at Mass for more than 500 former Swiss Guards, according to a communique made public yesterday afternoon.

  At midday, a guard of honor composed of 70 members of the corps will attend the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square to receive the blessing of Benedict XVI, thus reenacting events of 500 years ago under Pope Julius II. The former guards in Fribourg will be able to follow the event on television.

  The communique concludes by indicating that the commemorative day will conclude with the presentation of the Holy Father's commemorative medal for this occasion, in the Courtyard of Honor of the Swiss Guard.
.../SWISS GUARD CENTENARY/...                        VIS 20060119 (200)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" has organized an international congress on charity, due to be held on January 23 and 24 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall. The theme of the event, taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, is : " ... But the greatest of these is love."

  The congress, which takes place immediately prior to the publication of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, "Deus Caritas est," has the aim of "maintaining alive within the Church a sense of Christian commitment to others," according to a communique released by "Cor Unum" to announce the event.

  The meeting will be inaugurated by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of "Cor Unum," and will be attended by around 200 participants including cardinals, bishops, ambassadors, heads of international aid organizations, and national delegates from Caritas and from non-governmental groups.

  The calendar of events for the morning session of Monday, January 23, includes contributions from James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005, and from Denis Vienot, president of Caritas Internationalis. Under the moderator, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, they will analyze the two great sectors of humanitarian aid: that of civil society and that of the ecclesial world. At midday, Pope Benedict XVI will address the participants. During the afternoon sitting, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls will present six testimonies on "experiences of charity."

  The morning of Tuesday, January 24, will be dedicated to an interview with the Italian film director Liliana Cavani, who has made films on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. She will explain how the call of charity has affected her representation of love on film. Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, will conclude the session with a theological lecture on charity.

  The congress will close on the afternoon of the same day with a Eucharistic celebration at 5 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals and president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace and "Cor Unum."
CON-CU/CONGRESS CHARITY/CORDES                    VIS 20060119 (360)

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