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Friday, April 28, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - As previously announced, Monday, May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker and a holiday in the Vatican, there will be no VIS service. Transmission will resume on Tuesday, May 2.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

- Bishop Robert James Carlson of Saginaw (United States of America).

- Cherie Blair.

  He is scheduled to receive this afternoon Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for May is: "That the abundance of the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church may contribute to the growth of peace and justice in the world."

  His mission intention is: "That in the mission countries those responsible for the public institutions may, with suitable laws, promote and defend human life from its conception to its natural termination."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - Today, the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published the calendar for the celebrations that the Holy Father will preside from May to June.


- Monday, 1: At 5:30pm, the Holy Father will visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Divine Love (close to Rome) and will pray the rosary.

- Saturday 6: At 9:30pm, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

- Sunday 7: The fourth Sunday of Easter, at 9:00am in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will ordain to the priesthood deacons from the diocese of Rome.

- Thursday 25-Sunday 28: Apostolic trip to Poland.


- Saturday 3: At 8:30pm in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father will preside at the Pentecost Vigil with the participation of various ecclesial movements and the new communities.

- Sunday 4: The Solemnity of Pentecost, Holy Mass will be celebrated at 9:30am in St. Peter's Square.

- Thursday 15: The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. At 7:00pm, Holy Mass in the basilica of Saint John Lateran, procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major and Eucharistic benediction.

- Thursday 29: The Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Holy Mass will be celebrated at the basilica of St. Peter and will include the imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS)- Today, during a private audience with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorized the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Blessed Filippo Smaldone, Italian, diocesan priest, founder of the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart (1848 - 1923).

- Blessed Rafael Guizar Valencia, Mexican, bishop of Veracruz, Mexico (1878 - 1938).

- Blessed Rosa Venerini, Italian, foundress of the Congregation of the "Maestre Pie Venerini" (1656 - 1728).

- Blessed Teodora Guerin, nee Anna Teresa, French, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods in the United States. (1798 - 1856).

- Venerable Servant of God Basile Antonio Maria Moreau, French, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1799 - 1873).

- Venerable Servant of God Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, Spanish, priest of the Order of Saint Augustine. (1905 - 1983).

- Venerable Servant of God Margarita Maria Lopez de Maturana, Spanish, foundress of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of Mercy (1884 - 1934).


 - Servants of God Cruz Laplana y Laguna, Spanish, bishop of Cuenca, Spain (1875 - 1936) and Fernando Espanol Berdie, Spanish, diocesan priest (1875 - 1936).

 - Servant of God Narciso Estenaga Echevarria, Spanish, bishop of Ciudad Real, Spain (1882 - 1936).

- Servant of God Libero Gonzalez Nombela, Spanish, diocesan priest (1896 - 1936).

- Servant of God Eusebio del Bambino Gesu, Spanish, professed priest of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites (1888 - 1936).

- Servant of God Felice Echevarria Gorostiaga, Spanish, professed priest of the Order of the Minor Friars (1893 - 1936).

- Servant of God Teodosio Rafael ne Diodoro Lopez Hernandez, Spanish, professed religious in the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian School (1898 - 1936) and three brothers from the same institute.

- Servant of God Sara Salkahazi, Hungarian, of the Institute of the Sisters of the Assistance (1899 - 1944).


 - Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Cardinal of S.R.C., Spanish, archbishop of Toledo, Spain, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha (1833 - 1909).

- Servant of God Vincenza Maria Poloni ne Luigia, Italian, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona (1802 - 1855).

- Servant of God Maria Bucchi ne Maria Matilde, Italian, foundress of the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood of Monza (1812 - 1882).

- Servant of God Esperanza Gonzalez Puig, Spanish, foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1823 - 1885).

- Servant of God Cataline Coromina Agusti, Spanish, foundress of the Institute Josephine Sisters of Charity (1824 - 1893).

- Servant of God Maria Dolores Marquez Romero de Onoro, Spanish, foundress of the Congregation of the Philippian Daughters of Sorrowful Mary (1817 - 1904).

- Servant of God Maria Rosa Flesch, German, ne Margherita, foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Mary of the Angels (1826 - 1906).

- Giuseppina Nicoli, Italian, of the Society of the daughters of Charity (1863 - 1924).
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to participants in the 12th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is being held in the Vatican from April 28 to May 2, on the theme: "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence."

  Benedict XVI opens his Message by affirming the existence of "two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates."

  "This situation is the result of multiple and complex causes - often of an economic, social and cultural character - which you have proposed to study," he adds. "But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love. ... Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birth rates have significantly diminished."

  Often children and young people, "instead of feeling loved and cherished, appear to be merely tolerated. In 'an age of turbulence' they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world," and many of them "now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God. ... In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely to materialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment."

  "Parents, educators and community leaders ... can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, justice and injustice, the real world and the world of 'virtual reality'."

  Pope Benedict encourages the participants in the plenary to give "due consideration to the question of human freedom, which is "the condition for authentic human growth. Where such freedom is lacking or endangered, young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously for the ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and as members of society."

  Christians, the Holy Father concludes, cannot fail "to be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in the building of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2006 (VIS) - Following is a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, in the name of the Holy Father, to Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, military ordinary for Italy, regarding the attack of April 27th in Nassiriya, Iraq in which three Italians and one Romanian were killed.

  "The Supreme Pontiff received with great sadness news of the attack in Nassiriya in which three Italian members of the armed forces and a Romanian colleague, generously contributing in a mission of peace, lost their lives. The Holy Father expresses his firm condemnation of this new act of violence which, together with other cruel acts perpetrated in Iraq, constitutes yet another obstacle in the path toward harmony and reconstruction in that tormented country."

  "His Holiness would like to express his profound spiritual closeness to the families of the victims in the midst of a grave sorrow which also effects the Italian and Romanian armed forces and their respective national communities. The Holy Father also assures his fervent prayers for the young lives cut short, invoking heavenly consolation for those who mourn this tragic loss and he sends to all a special apostolic blessing, thinking in particular about those wounded and those, both civilian and military, who are dedicated to the arduous task of helping the people of Iraq, subjugated to so many difficulties."
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Thursday, April 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Archbishop Longinus da Cunha of Ende, Indonesia, on April 6, at the age of 60.

 - Bishop Charles Joseph Henderson, former auxiliary of Southwark, England, on April 10, at the age of 81.

 - Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, prelate emeritus of Loreto, Italy, on April 5, at the age of 82.

 - Archbishop Jose Mendez Asensio, emeritus of Granada, Spain, on April 15, at the age of 85.

 - Bishop Andre Nguyen Van Nam, emeritus of My Tho, Vietnam, on March 16, at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Sebastian Valloppilly, emeritus of Tellicherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on April 4, at the age of 94.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - Cardinal Rosalio Jose Castillo Lara S.D.B., president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - On Wednesday, April 19, the first anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, a Basic Agreement between the Holy See and Bosnia-Herzegovina was signed at the presidential palace in Sarajevo. The agreement confirmed a number of principles and defined certain issues regarding questions of common interest.

  The Holy See was represented by Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Bosnia-Herzegovina by Ivo Miro Jovic, Croatian member of the country's collegial presidency.

  According to a communique made public today, the Agreement, "bearing in mind the respective independence and autonomy of State and Church and their willingness to collaborate with each other, establishes the juridical framework for their reciprocal relations. In particular, it regulates the juridical position of the Catholic Church in civil society; her freedom and independence in her apostolic activities and in the regulation of her own affairs; and her freedom of worship and of action in the fields of culture, education, pastoral care, charity and the mass media. The text also makes provision for the running of Catholic schools of all levels; spiritual assistance to the armed forces, and in prisons and hospitals; and the organization of Catholic healthcare and charity structures''.

  The Agreement, the communique concludes, ''will come into force following the exchange of the instruments of ratification."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has just concluded its plenary session.

  ''From her beginnings", says the Message, "the Church has dedicated great attention to the procedures that elevate Servants of God to the glory of the altars. The causes of saints are considered 'major causes' because of their noble and material impact on the lives of the people of God."

  The Pope recalled prior interventions by earlier pontiffs who sought to improve the celebration and study of the causes of saints, quoting, among others, Pope John Paul II who in 1983 promulgated the Apostolic Constitution " Divinus Perfectionis Magister" and the "Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis faciendis in Causis Sanctorum."

  "The experience of more than 20 years since this text was published has prompted this congregation to publish an 'Instruction for the procedure of diocesan inquiries into the causes of saints,' which is chiefly addressed to diocesan bishops and constitutes the first theme examined by the plenary," says the Holy Father. The instruction "attempts to facilitate the application of the 'Normae servandae' in order to safeguard the seriousness of investigations", into virtues, causes of martyrdom or possible miracles.

  "It is clear", writes the Pope "that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

  Going on to refer to the second theme of the plenary session - "the miracle in the causes of saints" - Benedict XVI recalls that "miracles constitute divine confirmation of a judgement expressed by the ecclesial authorities on [a person's] virtuous life. I hope that the plenary will study this subject deeply in the light of the tradition of the Church, of modern theology, and of the most accredited discoveries of science. It should not be forgotten that in examining purportedly miraculous events the competency of scientists and theologians comes together, although the decisive judgement falls to theology which alone is capable of interpreting miracles in the light of the faith. ... It should also be clearly borne in mind that unbroken Church practice establishes the need for a physical miracle, a moral miracle is not enough."

  On the third subject, "martyrdom," the Pope writes: "If the motive that impels [people] to martyrdom remains unaltered, having its source and its model in Christ, what have changed are the cultural contexts of martyrdom and the strategies 'ex parte perscutoris' who seek to give ever less explicit prominence to their aversion to the Christian faith, ... but fake different reasons, for example political or social ones. It is of course necessary to find incontrovertible proof of willingness to suffer martyrdom, ... and of the victim's acceptance thereof. But it is equally necessary that, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain fashion, the 'odium Fidei' of the persecutor should be apparent. If this element is lacking, there is no real martyrdom in accordance with the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church."

  Finally, Benedict XVI referred to indications contained in John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister" concerning the need to associate bishops with the Holy See in dealing with the causes of saints. On the basis of these indications, Pope Benedict said, "I have implemented the widespread desire that the substantial difference between the celebration of beatification and that of canonization should be more deeply underlined; and that particular Churches should be more visibly involved in the rite of beatification, it being understood that only the Roman Pontiff may concede veneration to a Servant of God."


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, who have just celebrated their annual plenary session dedicated to the relationship between the Bible and morality. The session was presided over by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, president of the commission.

  The Pope greeted the participants, recalling the fact that he knows them personally, having been president of the same commission. He also highlighted the important theme discussed during the plenary session.

  ''The primordial impulse of human beings'', he said turning to consider the subject of the plenary, ''is their desire for happiness and a fulfilling life. Nevertheless, there are many today who think that such fulfillment must be attained autonomously, with no reference to God or to His law. Some have even suggested the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the field of moral norms. ... The proponents of this 'moral laicism' affirm that human beings, as rational creatures, not only can but must freely decide the value of their own behavior''.

  ''This false conviction'', he continued, ''is rooted in a supposed conflict between human freedom and any kind of law." However, "the law of God does not mitigate or eliminate human freedom, on the contrary, it guarantees and promotes it. ... Moral law, established by God at the creation and confirmed in the Revelation of the Old Testament, finds its fullness and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in His total obedience to the will of God''.

  ''In revealing the Father and in His own actions, Jesus also reveals the norms for just human behavior. He explicitly underlines this connection when, at the conclusion of His lessons regarding love for one's enemies, He says 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.''

  ''The path indicated by Jesus through His teachings is not a rule imposed from the outside. He Himself walks this path and asks no more than that we follow Him. ... In the search for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is always necessary to remember that Christ is the Word Incarnate Who renders us participants in His divine life, and with His grace He sustains us on the path towards true fulfillment.''

  ''The essence of human beings'', concluded the Pope, ''appears definitively in the Word made man," and "this relationship with Christ defines the highest fulfillment of man's moral actions. ... It is not an act dictated solely by external norms, it proceeds from the vital relationship that unites believers to Christ and to God.''
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 8,815, population 1,555,608, Catholics 895,023, priests 200, religious 668). The archbishop-elect was born in Bukavu in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1984 and consecrated a bishop in 2005.

 - Appointed Bishop Benedito Beni dos Santos, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Lorena (area 5,055, population 267,000, Catholics 202,000, priests 46, permanent deacons 15, religious 66), Brazil.

 - Appointed Fr. Joao Mamede Filho O.F.M. Conv., rector of the philosophical seminary "Casa Sao Francisco" in Curitiba, Brazil, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 7,060,750, Catholics 5,154,347, priests 804, permanent deacons 8, religious 2,289), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Cacapava, Brazil in 1951 and ordained a priest in 1978.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2006 (VIS) - From April 21 to 25, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, made an official visit to Albania at the invitation of Besnik Mustafaj, foreign minister of that Balkan country.

  On Sunday, April 23, Archbishop Lajolo celebrated a solemn Mass in the cathedral of Tirana and recalled John Paul II's historic visit on April 25 1993, during which he consecrated four new bishops. On January 25, 2005 the late Pope reorganized the Catholic Church in Albania into two ecclesiastical provinces: one around the archdiocese of Tirane-Durres, and the other around the archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult. In the evening, Archbishop Lajolo paid a courtesy visit to the heads of the Muslim communities and was received by the prime minister, Sali Berisha.

  On Monday, April 24, the secretary for Relations with States was received by Alfred Moisiu, president of the Republic of Albania. That afternoon he travelled to Scutari (Shkodre) where he visited the national shrine of the Virgin of Good Counsel and presided at a solemn Eucharistic concelebration in the city's cathedral. He also visited the tombs of Albanian martyrs of the communist regime last century, among them that of Cardinal Mikel Koliqi.

  On the morning of April 25, prior to concluding his visit, Archbishop Lajolo met with His Beatitude Anastasios Yannoulatos, Orthodox archbishop of Tirana, Durazzo and all Albania.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2006 (VIS) - The program of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Poland was made public today. Between May 25 and 28 he is due to visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz.

  The Holy Father will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.40 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, arriving in Warsaw at 11 a.m. Following the welcome ceremony, he will hold a meeting with clergy in the cathedral of St. John. At 5.45 p.m. the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the president of Poland in the presidential palace, before going on to participate in an ecumenical gathering at the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity.

  On Friday, May 26, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square. In the afternoon, he will travel by helicopter to Czestochowa where he will visit the Shrine of the Virgin of Jasna Gora and meet with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life. He will then travel to Krakow where he will spend the night in the archbishop's place.

  The following day, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass in the archbishop's palace in Krakow before travelling by car to Wadowice. There he will visit the basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the house in which John Paul II was born, later meeting local inhabitants in the town's Rynek Square. At midday, he is due to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. On his return to Krakow, he will visit the shrine of Divine Mercy and Wawel Cathedral and, at 7 p.m., meet with young people in the city's Blonie Park.

  At 9.45 a.m. on Sunday, May 28, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Blonie Park, and pray the Regina Coeli. After lunch, he will travel by car from the archbishop's palace in Krakow to Auschwitz. After visiting the former concentration camp and the center for dialogue and prayer, he will participate in a prayer meeting in memory of victims in the former concentration camp of Birkenau.

  At 6.30 p.m., the Pope will travel directly from Birkenau to the Krakow's Balice airport. Following the departure ceremony, his plane will take off at 8 p.m. and is due to arrive in Rome at 9.15 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2006 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Pope recalled the explosion 20 years ago - on April 26, 1986 - of the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine, considered the worst industrial and environmental accident in history.

  The Chernobyl explosion produced radioactive rain detectable in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain, and even the eastern United States. The radioactive fallout provoked irreparable damage to the environment, cancers, mutations, genetic deformation and a large number of deaths.

  "I feel the need," said the Holy Father, "to express my great appreciation for the families, associations, civil authorities and Christian communities who, over these years, have striven to house and care for the people, especially the children, struck by the consequences of that painful event.

  "As once again we pray for the victims of so immense a tragedy and for those who carry the signs on their bodies, we call on the Lord to enlighten the people responsible for the fate of humanity that they, through joint efforts, put all their energies at the service of peace, while respecting the needs of mankind and of nature."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2006 (VIS) - Ecclesial communion and the concept of tradition provided the theme for Benedict XVI's catechesis during today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 50,000 people.

  "Ecclesial communion - aroused and sustained by the Holy Spirit, safeguarded and promoted by the apostolic ministry - does not only extend to the believers of a particular historical period, but embraces all times and generations," said the Pope.

  "Thanks to the Paraclete," he continued, " the early apostolic community was able to experience the Risen Lord. Successive generations do the same, as the faith is transmitted and lived through faith, worship and the communion of the People of God. ... This transmission of the 'things' of salvation is what constitutes the apostolic tradition of the Church." The Holy Spirit "actualizes the salvific presence of the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of the apostles ... and through the entire life of the people of the new covenant."

  This ongoing actuality of the active presence of the Lord Jesus in His people - worked by the Holy Spirit and expressed in the Church through the apostolic ministry and fraternal communion - is the theological meaning of the term Tradition. It is not just a material transmission of what was originally given to the Apostles, but the effective presence of the Lord Jesus ... Who, in the Spirit, accompanies and guides the community He gathered."

  "Tradition," Pope Benedict concluded, "is the communion of the faithful around legitimate pastors over the course of history, a community nourished by the Holy Spirit. ... It is the organic continuity of the Church, ... the permanent presence of the Savior Who comes out to meet, redeem and sanctify us in the Spirit."
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente of Zamora, Spain, as bishop of Segorbe-Castellon de la Plana (area 4,380, population 449,043, Catholics 419,701, priests 282, permanent deacons 4, religious 513), Spain.

 - Msgr. Frank J. Dewane of the clergy of the diocese of Green Bay, U.S.A., under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as coadjutor of Venice (area 22,685, population 1,766,651, Catholics 218,173, priests 239, permanent deacons 75, religious 202), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Green Bay in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1988.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 25, 2006 (VIS) - For the occasion of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Poland, his second visit outside Italy as Pope which is due to take place from May 25 to 28, we offer our readers statistics concerning the Catholic Church in Poland taken from the latest Statistical Yearbook of the Church with data relative to December 31, 2004.

  Poland has a population of 38.2 million, of whom 36.6 million (95.8 percent) are Catholic. There are 45 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 10,114 parishes and 800 pastoral centers of other kinds. Currently, there are 133 bishops, 28,546 priests, 24,826 religious, 1,081 lay members of secular institutes and 14,418 catechists. Minor seminarians number 1,803, and major seminarians 6,427.

  A total of 315,698 children and young people attend 1,726 centers of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities. Other institutions belonging to the Church, or run by priests or religious in Poland include 33 hospitals, 244 clinics, 267 homes for the elderly or disabled, 538 orphanages and nurseries, 1,820 family counseling centers and other pro-life centers, and 1,462 centers for education and social rehabilitation.
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Monday, April 24, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Oscar Gonzalez Villa of the clergy of the archdiocese of Manizales, Colombia, rector of the major seminary of "Nuestra Senora del Rosario," as bishop of Girardota (area 2,445, population 203,000, Catholics 183,000, priests 56, religious 99), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Alcala, Colombia in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1973.

  On Saturday, April 22, it was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Ouesso, Republic of the Congo, presented by Bishop Herve Itoua, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Okigwe, Nigeria, presented by Bishop Anthony Ekezia Ilonu, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Solomon Amanchukwu Amatu.

 - Appointed Bishop Antonio Augusto dos Santos Marto of Viseu, Portugal, as bishop of Leiria-Fatima (area 1,700, population 267,000, Catholics 256,000, priests 154, religious 546), Portugal. He succeeds Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Ignazio Sanna of the clergy of the diocese of Nuoro, Italy, professor and pro-rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, as metropolitan archbishop of Oristano (area 3,112, population 148,915, Catholics 148,067, priests 122, permanent deacons 6, religious 362), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Orune, Italy in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1967. He succeeds Archbishop Pier Giuliano Tiddia, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Beatus Kinyaiya O.F.M. Cap., former provincial superior for Tanzania, as bishop of Mbulu (area 1,605, population 900,000, Catholics 242,698, priests 58, religious 175), Tanzania. The bishop-elect was born in Shimbwe, Tanzania in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1989.

 - Appointed Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti of Ozieri, Italy, as bishop of Tempio-Ampurias (area 2,695, population 145,400, Catholics 144,000, priests 79, permanent deacons 2, religious 117), Italy.

 - Appointed Msgr. Gianfranco De Luca of the clergy of the diocese of Teramo-Atri, Italy, pastor and head of youth pastoral care, as bishop of Termoli-Larino (area 1,424, population 106,500, Catholics 105,850, priests 69, permanent deacons 8, religious 109), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Atri in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1974.

 - Appointed Msgr. Jose Maria Ortega Trinidad, pastor of the cathedral "San Vicente Martir" in San Vicente de Canete, Peru, as bishop-prelate of the territorial prelature of Juli (area 17,427, population 455,000, Catholics 404,000, priests 13, religious 37), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Nava, Peru in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1978.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Ghana Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi of Sunyani.

    - Archbishop Gregory Ebo Kpiebaya of Tamale.

    - Bishop Philip Naameh of Damongo.

    - Bishop Lucas Abadamloora of Navrongo-Bolgatanga.

    - Bishop Paul Bemile of Wa.

    - Bishop Vincent Sowah Boi-Nai S.V.D., of Yendi.

  On Saturday, April 22, he received in separate audiences:

 - Six prelates from the Ghana Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Msgr. Joseph Kwaku Afrifah-Agyekum, bishop-elect of Koforidua.

    - Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong of Kumasi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anoyke.

    - Bishop Peter Kwaku Atuahene of Goaso.

    - Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu of Konongo-Mampong.

    - Bishop Thomas Kwaku Mensah of Obuasi.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope for celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the death of St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, the second archbishop of Lima, Peru. The celebrations are being held in Lima from April 24 to 29.

  Addressing Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, as well as the bishops, priests, religious and laity participating in the event, the Pope invites them to "consider this anniversary as a providential opportunity to reactivate the journey of the Church in the various dioceses, drawing inspiration from the life and work of St. Toribio."

  That saint, writes the Pope, "distinguished himself for his selfless commitment to the edification and consolidation of the ecclesial communities of his day. He did so with a great spirit of communion and collaboration, always seeking unity as is shown by his calling of the third provincial council of Lima (1582-1583), ... one fruit of which was the so-called Catechism of St. Toribio."

  The Holy Father highlights the fact that the saint founded the conciliar seminary in Lima, which still exists today. He also expresses his hope that the seminary "may continue to give abundant fruit, precisely at a time when it is urgently necessary to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in order to face the immense task of building Christian communities that gather joyfully on Sunday, perform the Sacraments, foment spiritual life, transmit and cultivate the faith, bear witness of resolute hope, and always practice charity."

  "St. Toribio's profound missionary spirit," writes the Pope, was apparent in "his efforts to learn various languages in order to be able to preach personally to all those entrusted to his pastoral care." This, the Holy Father's message concludes, "was also a sign of his respect for the dignity of all human beings, whatever their condition, in whom he always sought to promote the joy of feeling themselves to be true children of God."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience prelates from the Ghana Bishops' Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. In his English-language talk to them, the Pope reminded the bishops that they "have all come to Rome, this city where the Apostles Peter and Paul gave of themselves completely in imitation of Christ. ... The gift of self to the other is also at the heart of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Those who receive this sacrament are configured in a particular way to Christ, the Head of the Church."

  Pope Benedict praised recent efforts in Ghana "to deal with the scourge of poverty and to strengthen the economy. Notwithstanding this laudable progress, much still remains to be done to overcome this condition which impedes a large portion of the population. Extreme and widespread poverty often results in a general moral decline leading to crime, corruption, attacks on the sanctity of human life or even a return to the superstitious practices of the past."

  In such a situation, where it easy to lose trust in the future, the Church "shines forth as a beacon of hope in the life of the Christian, ... by helping the faithful gain a better understanding of the promises of Jesus Christ," and forming them "to deepen their Christian faith and thus enable them to take their rightful place both in the Church of Christ and in society." In this context, the Pope praised the work of catechists, though noting how they "are often impeded in their task by a lack of resources or hostile environments," and inviting bishops "to ensure that these evangelists receive the spiritual, doctrinal, moral and material support they require to carry out their mission properly."

  The Pope then observed that in Ghana "young people constitute almost half of the population. ... A solid catechetical foundation," he said, "will strengthen them in their Catholic identity and give them the necessary tools to confront the challenges of changing economic realities, globalization and disease. It will also assist them in responding to the arguments often put forward by religious sects."

  Going on to refer to "the Church's task to assist Christian families to live faithfully and generously as true 'domestic churches'," the Pope reiterated the bishops' own concern "about the proper celebration of Christian marriage in Ghana. ... While Christianity always seeks to respect the venerable traditions of cultures and peoples, it also seeks to purify those practices which are contrary to the Gospel," he said.

  "For this reason," he added, "it is essential that the entire Catholic community continue to stress the importance of the monogamous and indissoluble union of man and woman, consecrated in holy matrimony. For the Christian, traditional forms of marriage can never be a substitute for sacramental marriage."

  Turning to consider the priesthood, the Holy Father said it "must never be seen as a way of improving one's social standing or standard of living. If it is, then priestly gift of self and docility to God's designs will give way to personal desires, rendering the priest ineffective and unfulfilled."

  Finally, the Pope encouraged the bishops in their efforts "to ensure the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and to guarantee proper priestly formation for those who are studying for the sacred ministry." Recalling how this year marks the centenary of the arrival of missionaries in northern Ghana, he concluded by saying: "It is my special prayer that missionary zeal will continue to fill you and your beloved people, strengthening you in your efforts to spread the Gospel."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 23, 2006 (VIS) - Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, Benedict XVI prayed the Regina Coeli with more than 50,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Regina Coeli prayer, which substitutes the Angelus during the period of Easter, the Pope quoted the Gospel of John recounting Jesus' appearance to His disciples gathered in the Upper Room on the evening of the "first day of the week" and then again "eight days later."

  "From the very beginning, then, the Christian community began to live according to a weekly rhythm marked by the meeting with the Risen Lord," said the Pope, pointing out how this is also underlined by the Vatican Council II Constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium": "By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ's resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every eighth day; with good reason this, then, bears the name of the Lord's day or Sunday."

  The wounds Christ showed the apostles on both those occasions "are an inexhaustible fount of faith, hope and love from which everyone can draw, especially the souls that most thirst for divine mercy," said the Holy Father. He also recalled how John Paul II "wished the Sunday after Easter to be particularly dedicated to Divine Mercy; and Providence ordained that he himself should die on the eve of that day."

  Benedict XVI went on: "The mystery of God's merciful love lay at the center of the pontificate of my venerated predecessor. We particularly recall his 1980 Encyclical 'Dives in misericordia' and his dedication of the new Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland in 2002. The words he pronounced on that occasion were like a summary of his entire Magisterium, highlighting how the cult of divine mercy is no secondary form of devotion, but an integral dimension of a Christian's faith and prayer."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on "Most Holy Mary, Mother of the Church ... to enable all Christians fully to experience Sunday as 'the Easter of the week,' savoring the beauty of the encounter with the Risen Lord and drawing from the fount of His merciful love in order to be apostles of His peace."

  After praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope recalled that the Eastern Churches celebrate Easter today. "In the festive climate of this day," he said, "I cannot fail to recall that many of these people - in Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria - are suffering because of the flooding of recent days. I am close to them in prayer and have the heartfelt hope that, with a contribution from everyone, they may soon overcome these difficult moments."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 22, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano celebrated Mass for members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who this year are celebrating the fifth centenary of the births of St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre.

  Benedict XVI arrived in the basilica at midday to greet and address some words to participants in the Eucharistic celebration.

  The Holy Father invited those present to give thanks to God for having conceded the Society "the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and exceptional apostolic zeal such as St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre." May they, he continued, be "enlightened and dependable guides for your spiritual journey and your apostolic activity."

  St. Ignatius Loyola was, said the Pope, "a man of deep prayer, the center and summit of whose life was the daily celebration of the Eucharist. In this way, he left followers a precious spiritual heritage which must not be lost or forgotten."

  After pointing out how St. Ignatius served the Church faithfully, Benedict XVI mentioned some of "the Church's must urgent current requirements." These include "cultural commitment in the fields of theology and philosophy, ... and the dialogue with modern culture ... so deeply marked by positivist and materialist scientism." In this context, the Pope affirmed that promoting "a culture inspired by Gospel values requires intense spiritual and cultural preparation."

  Another concern of St. Ignatius, he added, was "the Christian education and cultural formation of the young. ... Continue this important apostolate, while upholding intact the spirit of your Founder."

  Going on to speak of St. Francis Xavier, the Pope recalled how Pope Pius XI proclaimed him as "patron saint of Catholic missions." And although "his mission in the East lasted just ten years, it has proved remarkably fruitful over the four and a half centuries of life of the Society of Jesus, because his example encouraged many missionary vocations among young Jesuits." And it still continues to be a model for "missionary activity in the great countries of the continent of Asia."

  Blessed Pierre Favre, said Benedict XVI, "spent his brief life in various European countries, especially Germany where, by order of Pope Paul III, he took part ... in discussions with the leaders of the Reformation. Thus he had an exceptional opportunity to practice the vow of special obedience to the Pope 'concerning missions,' becoming a model for all future Jesuits to follow."

  At the end of his address, the Holy Father recalled that "on April 22, 1541 St. Ignatius and his first followers made their solemn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the Walls," and he concluded by calling on the Virgin to continue to watch over the Society of Jesus.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 22, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Benedict XVI attended a concert organized in his honor by the local authorities of Rome at the city's "Parco della Musica" Auditorium to mark the occasion of the 2759th anniversary of the foundation of the Eternal City.

  Returning to Rome from his Castelgandolfo residence in mid afternoon, the Pope travelled directly to the auditorium where he was welcomed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, president of the Italian Republic, Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome, and other civil and religious authorities.

  At the end of the concert, the Pope delivered a brief address in which he described the anniversary of the foundation of the city as "an appropriate occasion to seek a better understanding of Rome's vocation as a beacon of civilization and spirituality for the entire world."
  He continued: "Rome has played a special role over the centuries, thanks to the encounter between its traditions and Christianity; and it remains an important attraction for many visitors today, drawn here by a rich artistic heritage largely linked to the city's Christian history."

  After recalling how the concert was organized "to recall the first anniversary of my pontificate," the Pope mentioned the generosity and openness of the people of Rome, which "I myself was able to experience from my first meeting with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square on April 19, 2005."

  The Pope also expressed his gratitude for the decision to play "music from the works of Mozart, a great composer who left an indelible mark in history. This year marks the 250th anniversary of his birth and various initiatives have been planned throughout 2006 which has been justly called the 'Year of Mozart'."

  He concluded: "The pieces played by the orchestra and choir of the Santa Cecilia Academy are well known works by Mozart, among them some of significant religious inspiration. The 'Ave verum' for example, which is often sung during liturgical celebrations, is a composition of rich theological words with a musical accompaniment that invites one to prayer. In this way music, raising the soul to contemplation, helps us to grasp even the most intimate traces of human genius, in which something of the incomparable beauty of the Creator of the universe is reflected."

Friday, April 21, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 21, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Ghana Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast.

    - Bishop John Martin Darko of Sekondi-Takoradi.

    - Bishop Joseph Francis Kweku Essien of Wiawso.

    - Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra.

    - Bishop Gabriel Akwasi Abiabo Mante of Jasikan

    - Bishop Anthony Kwami Adanuty of Keta-Akatsi.

    - Msgr. Anthony Kornu, vicar general of Ho.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 21, 2006 (VIS) - On April 16, the Indonesian newspaper "Kompas" published an interview with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, in which the prelate dwelt on such topics as the special status of Vatican City State, the Holy See's diplomatic activity, the separation between Church and State, and inter-religious dialogue.

  In his interview, the archbishop points out how the name "Vatican" is often used to refer to two very different things: There is Vatican City State, which is a country in its own right, "though of minuscule political substance, and having the sole purpose of guaranteeing the independence of the Pope, as supreme authority of the Catholic Church, from any form of civil jurisdiction." And there is the Holy See, which is "the Pope and the Roman Curia, ... and is sometimes commonly though incorrectly referred to as the Vatican because it has its headquarters in Vatican City State. But the Holy See is not an organ of civil government and hence does not have political functions. Therefore, the problem of confusion or overlap between the two functions - the political function of the State and the religious function of the Church - does not arise."

  The archbishop continues by explaining that, while the external relations of Vatican City State "are of modest proportions and directed above all to Italy and to a few international organizations for such matters as post and telecommunications," the Holy See has "a vast network of embassies (known technically as 'apostolic nunciatures') all over the world."

  Unlike other embassies, Archbishop Lajolo goes on, nunciatures do not concern themselves with "political questions, defense or trade, but with matters concerning the freedom of the Church and human rights. Mostly, the Holy See intervenes to guarantee the juridical status of the Church and, in some countries, to defend Catholic faithful who may be oppressed or subject to pressure and discrimination; and it does so by invoking the rights endorsed in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or even those ratified by the Constitutions of particular States. ... There are various criteria for intervention depending on the situation, and they are naturally inspired by the will to help in the most effective way possible, and hence with the necessary prudence and reserve to ensure there are no negative repercussions."

  On the subject of the separation of Church and State, the archbishop says: "The Church in no way seeks to impose any piece of civil legislation, if political forces do not themselves take it up. The fundamental principle of distinction between political and religious spheres and firm protection for religious freedom applies, according to which, just as the State does not interfere in the activities of the Church, so it does not take orders from her. The Church - in practice, the bishops in the countries concerned - seeks to illuminate Catholics and public opinion ... using public declarations to explain the Catholic position on the moral questions that arise from political activity and legislation, and adopting above all rational arguments accessible even to those without faith."

  "At a universal level, the Holy See intervenes on the great moral questions posed by politics through such documents as papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations, and the instructions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Various criteria are used to judge where it is appropriate to intervene, but the Church cannot in any case remain silent when the dignity or the fundamental rights of mankind, or religious freedom, are in question."

  Closing his interview by turning to the question of dialogue between different faiths, the secretary for Relations with States affirmed that Benedict XVI will continue, just as his predecessors did, "the commitment to inter-religious dialogue."

  After highlighting how "a conflict of cultures, or worse still of religions, could divide people even more than they are already divided," the archbishop points out that "inter-religious dialogue aims at a better understanding of the faith of others and at making one's own faith better known, as well as at reinforcing mutual bonds of personal respect. ... It does not aim to make those who participate in it less faithful to their own profound religious convictions, but to open minds and hearts ever more to the will of God."

Thursday, April 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, a press conference was held to present the celebrations being organized to mark the fifth centenary of St. Peter's Basilica.

Participating in the event were Cardinals Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the basilica, and Albert Vanhoye S.J., rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical College; Archbishop Angelo Comastri and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, respectively president and delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Antonio Paolucci, superintendent of the Florentine Museums and curator of the exhibition, "Petros Eni;" and Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, bureau chief at the Fabric of St. Peter's.

In his talk, Cardinal Marchisano traced a brief history of the basilica, beginning with the emperor Constantine's original fourth-century construction. By the end of the 14th century, in light of the frailty of the Constantinian structure, pontiffs were desirous of building a new church, a project that finally began on April 18, 1506 when Pope Julius II placed the first stone of the current basilica. Work continued for a further 130 years and involved such artists as Bramante, Sangallo, Michelangelo and Bernini.

The basilica, said the cardinal, possesses an extraordinary archive composed of 3,050,000 documents concerning the work carried out from the beginning to our own times. It is, he added, one of the most visited sites in the world, with between five and 20 thousand people crossing its doors each day.

For his part, Archbishop Comastri recalled that in 1939, "by decision of Pope Pius XII, excavation work began under St. Peter's Basilica. To great astonishment, the ancient necropolis interred by Constantine's architects in the year 320 came to light. Moving up the slopes of the Vatican hill, a small monument was found, identified as the 'Tropaion of Gaius;' this discovery was followed by that of the famous red wall with the graffiti 'Petros eni' and a series of other graffiti all testifying to the devotion to Peter in this place."

Bishop Lanzani's talk concerned the issuing of stamps and coins to commemorate the anniversary.

"The Governorate of Vatican City State will issue a series of commemorative stamps of the value of 0.45 and 0.60 euros," he said. "The first represents the commemorative medal of Bramante, produced by Cristoforo Foppa between the years 1505 and 1506. ... The second depicts the medal placed in the foundations of the new St. Peters, also the work of Cristoforo Foppa." Both stamps bear the inscription: "Templum Divi Petri in Vaticano 1506-1606."

The Fabric of St. Peter's will also mint two medals for the occasion, one in silver and one in two different metals, the work of the Italian engraver Sergio Giandomenico. One side shows the consignment of the keys to St. Peter against the background of the basilica, with the emblem of the Fabric of St. Peter's underneath and the inscription "Patriarcalis Basilica Principis Apostolorum 1506-1606" around the edge. On the other side is an image of the Holy Father with the phrase "Benedictus XVI, Pontifex Maximus."


VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated March 4, appointing Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the death of St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, patron saint of the Latin American episcopate.

  Accompanying the cardinal to the celebrations - due to be held in Lima, Peru from April 24 to 29 - are Msgrs. Pedro Rufino Hidalgo Diaz, rector of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Lima and member of the cathedral chapter; Alberto Maravi Petrozzi, rector of the major seminary of St. Toribio and member of the cathedral chapter; and Angelo Accattino, secretary of the apostolic nunciature to Peru.


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Jose Mauro Pereira Bastos C.P., of Janauba, Brazil, as bishop of Guaxupe (area 13,953, population 857,374, Catholics 600,161, priests 100, religious 169), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Jose Geraldo Oliveira do Valle C.S.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Thursday, April 13, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Bishop Luigi Conti of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Fermo (area 1,318, population 282,534, Catholics 276,921, priests 244, permanent deacons 17, religious 443), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Urbania, Italy in 1941, he was ordained a priest in 1965 and consecrated a bishop in 1996.

 - Appointed Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli, counsellor at the apostolic nunciature to the United States of America, as apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, at the same time raising him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Predore, Italy in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1978.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2006 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope said: "With great anguish I learned the news of last Monday's terrible attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, and I feel the need to express my most firm condemnation of that terrorist act. It is not by such abominable acts that the legitimate rights of a people can by protected."

  "May the Lord, Prince of Peace, remain close to Israelis and Palestinians, that they do not abandon themselves to a tragic undercurrent but resume the journey that will bring them to live in peace and security, one next to the other as children of the one Father in heaven."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2006 (VIS) - The meaning of Easter was the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for today's general audience, which coincided with the first anniversary of his election to the pontificate. The Pope arrived by helicopter for the audience - held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 60,000 people - from his residence at Castelgandolfo where he is spending a few days following the Easter celebrations.

  "How quickly time passes," said the Pope to the faithful. "A year has already gone since ... the cardinals meeting in conclave chose me to succeed the much mourned and beloved Servant of God, the great Pope John Paul II. With emotion I recall the first impact I received from the loggia of the Vatican Basilica ... with the faithful gathered in this same square."

  He continued: "That meeting, which remains impressed upon my mind and heart, was followed by many others, giving me the chance to experience how real the words were that I pronounced during the course of the solemn concelebration with which I began my exercise of the Petrine ministry: 'I feel with renewed conviction that I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone'." Apart from God's celestial protection, the Pope mentioned the closeness, understanding, love and prayers of the faithful. "I ask each of you to continue to support me, praying to God to enable me to be mild and firm pastor of His Church," he said.

  "Immediately after His resurrection, Jesus called Peter to tend His flock," Pope Benedict added. "Who then could have humanly imagined the development that, over the centuries, would mark that small group of the Lord's disciples? Peter, together with the Apostles and later their successors, ... courageously spread the evangelical message, the fundamental and indispensable core of which is constituted by the Paschal mystery: the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This is the mystery the Church celebrates at Easter: Christ's triumph over evil and death."

  "The Gospel accounts narrating the appearances of the Risen One usually conclude with an invitation to overcome all uncertainty ... and to announce that Jesus, beyond death, is eternally alive, a source of new life for all those who believe. ... Faith is born from the personal meeting with the Risen Christ, and becomes a force of courage and freedom that brings us to cry out to the world that Jesus has risen and lives forever. This is the mission of the Lord's disciples in all ages including our own."

  At the end of the audience, Benedict XVI returned to Castelgandolfo. In the first year of his pontificate, more than four million people have participated in his general and special audiences, his Sunday Angelus and liturgical celebrations celebrated by him.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 17, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope appeared at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in the square below. The Pope travelled to his Castelgandolfo residence yesterday evening to rest after the Easter celebrations.

  After recalling how the Regina Coeli prayer substitutes the Angelus during the period of Easter, the Pope affirmed that "Mary guarded in her heart the 'good news' of the resurrection - source and secret of true joy and authentic peace - that Christ, Who died and rose again, has conquered us with the sacrifice of the cross."

  He went on: "We ask Mary, just as she accompanied us in the days of the passion, to continue to guide our steps in this time of spiritual joy, that we may grow ever more in the knowledge and love of the Lord, and become witnesses and apostles of His peace."

  Benedict XVI then recalled how tomorrow, April 18, marks the 500th anniversary of the day Pope Julius II laid the first stone of the new Basilica of St. Peter's, "which the world entire admires for the powerful harmony of its lines."

  The Holy Father also gratefully recalled "the Supreme Pontiffs who commissioned this extraordinary construction over the tomb of the Apostle Peter," and "the artists who with their genius contributed to building and decorating it." He also had words of thanks for the staff of the Fabric of St. Peter's "who oversee the maintenance and protection of this unique masterpiece of art and faith."

  May this anniversary, he concluded, "reawaken in all Catholics the desire to be 'living stones' for the building of the holy Church, in which the 'light of Christ' shines out" through works of charity witnessed by the world.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 16, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI celebrated the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at 10.30 this morning in St. Peter's Square, which was decorated, as has become traditional, with flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. At midday, from the central loggia of the basilica, he pronounced his first Easter Message, expressed Easter greetings in 63 languages and imparted his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

  On the day of his own 79th birthday and three days before the first anniversary of his election as Pope, the Holy Father said: "Today, even in this modern age marked by anxiety and uncertainty, we relive the event of the Resurrection, which changed the face of our life and changed the history of humanity. From the risen Christ, all those who are still oppressed by chains of suffering and death look for hope, sometimes even without knowing it.

  "May the Spirit of the Risen One, in particular, bring relief and security in Africa to the peoples of Darfur, who are living in a dramatic humanitarian situation that is no longer sustainable; to those of the Great Lakes region, where many wounds have yet to be healed; to the peoples of the Horn of Africa, of the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other nations which aspire to reconciliation, justice and progress."

  Turning to the situation in Iraq, he expressed the hope that peace may "finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims. I also pray sincerely that those caught up in the conflict in the Holy Land may find peace, and I invite all to patient and persevering dialogue, so as to remove both ancient and new obstacles." In this context, he called on the international community, "which re-affirms Israel's just right to exist in peace," to "assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving towards the constitution of a State that is truly their own."

  "May the Spirit of the Risen One enkindle a renewed enthusiastic commitment of the countries of Latin America," he went on, "so that the living conditions of millions of citizens may be improved, the deplorable scourge of kidnapping may be eradicated and democratic institutions may be consolidated in a spirit of harmony and effective solidarity.

  "Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honorable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations, and may the leaders of nations and of international organizations be strengthened in their will to achieve peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions, in order to remove the threat of terrorism."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on humankind in the third millennium not to be afraid, but to open their hearts to the Risen Christ. "His Gospel totally quenches the thirst for peace and happiness that is found in every human heart. Christ is now alive and He walks with us. What an immense mystery of love! 'Christus resurrexit, quia Deus caritas est! Alleluia!'."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 15, 2006 (VIS) - At 10 this evening in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope presided at the solemn Easter vigil during which he administered the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to seven catechumens from Albania, Belarus, Peru, Japan, Colombia and Cameroon.

  The celebration started in the atrium of St. Peter's where the Holy Father blessed the new fire and lighted the Easter candle. This was followed by the procession into the basilica with the candle and the singing the "Exultet." Then came the Liturgy of the Word and the Baptismal and Eucharistic Liturgies which the Holy Father concelebrated with cardinals.

  Referring to the significance of Christ's resurrection, Benedict XVI described it as "the 'greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history."

  "It is clear," he went on, "that this event is not just some miracle from the past, the occurrence of which could be ultimately a matter of indifference to us. It is a qualitative leap in the history of 'evolution' and of life in general towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself.

  "But how does this happen?" Benedict XVI asked. "How can this event effectively reach me and draw my life upwards towards itself? The answer, perhaps surprising at first but totally real, is: this event comes to me through faith and Baptism. For this reason Baptism is part of the Easter Vigil. ... Baptism is something quite different from an act of ecclesial socialization, from a slightly old-fashioned and complicated rite for receiving people into the Church. It is also more than a simple washing, more than a kind of purification and beautification of the soul. It is truly death and resurrection, rebirth, transformation to a new life."

  "The great explosion of the resurrection has seized us in Baptism so as to draw us on. Thus we are associated with a new dimension of life into which, amid the tribulations of our day, we are already in some way introduced. To live one's own life as a continual entry into this open space: this is the meaning of being baptized, of being Christian. This is the joy of the Easter Vigil."

  The Holy Father stressed how "the resurrection is not a thing of the past, the resurrection has reached us and seized us. We grasp hold of it, we grasp hold of the Risen Lord, and we know that He holds us firmly even when our hands grow weak. We grasp hold of His hand, and thus we also hold on to one another's hands, and we become one single subject, not just one thing."

  "'I, but no longer I.' If we live in this way, we transform the world. It is a formula contrary to all ideologies of violence, it is a program opposed to corruption and to the desire for power and possession. ... 'I, but no longer I.' This is the way of the cross, the way that 'crosses over' a life simply closed in on the I, thereby opening up the road towards true and lasting joy."
BXVI-HOLY WEEK/EASTER VIGIL/...                    VIS 20060420 (570)


VATICAN CITY, APR 14, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. today, Good Friday, the Pope presided at the celebration of the Lord's Passion. Following the reading of the Passion, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, pronounced his customary Good Friday homily in which he recalled how, whilst the Passion and Death of the Savior are being celebrated, millions of people are induced to believe, "by the skillful manipulation of ancient legends, that Jesus of Nazareth was never in fact crucified."

  At 9.15 p.m., the Holy Father travelled to the Colosseum where he led the 'Via Crucis' or Way of the Cross. The loss of a sense of sin and its dramatic consequences for humanity were the central theme of the meditations, which this year were prepared by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope's vicar general for Vatican City State.

  Benedict XVI carried the cross for the first and last stations. Over the other stations, it was borne by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, a family from the city, an American seminarian, two female religious, three young women from Mexico, Angola and Nigeria, and two Franciscans from the Custody of the Holy Land.

  At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father delivered some off-the-cuff remarks to those present: "The Cross of the Lord," he said, "embraces the world. Its 'Via Crucis' covers all continents and times. In the 'Via Crucis' we cannot be mere spectators. We too are involved and so must seek out our place."

  "In the Cross of Christ today," he went on, "we have seen the suffering of abandoned and abused children; threats against the family; the division of the world in the pride of the rich who do not see Lazarus at their door, and the poverty of so many who suffer hunger and thirst."

  Yet the suffering is accompanied by consolation, he added. "We have seen the Mother, whose goodness remained faithful to the end. We have seen the courageous woman who remained before the Lord and was not afraid to show her solidarity with the One Who suffered. We have seen Simon of Cyrene, the African who bore the Cross with Christ."

  In this way, said Pope Benedict, "we have understood that the 'Via Crucis' is not simply a collection of the dark and sad things of the world. It is not useless moralism or a cry of protest that changes nothing. The 'Via Crucis' is the way of mercy, of the mercy that puts a limit to evil. This is what we learned from Pope John Paul II."

  It is, he concluded, "the way of mercy, and so the way of salvation. And thus we are invited to take the path of mercy and, with Jesus, to place a limit to evil."
BXVI-HOLY WEEK/GOOD FRIDAY/...                    VIS 20060420 (490)


VATICAN CITY, APR 13, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m. today, Holy Thursday, the Holy Father presided at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated on this day in churches and cathedrals throughout the world. Cardinals, bishops and priests present in Rome concelebrated with the Pope. Following the homily, there was the renewal of priestly vows and the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed.

  In his homily, the Pope described "the profound significance of being a priest," as "becoming a friend of Jesus. ... This means that we must know Jesus in an ever more personal way, listening to Him, living with Him, remaining at His side."

  Benedict XVI then went on to highlight how a priest "must be above all a man of prayer. ... The world has need of God, not of any god, but of the God of Jesus Christ, the God Who became flesh and blood, Who loved us enough to die for us, Who rose and created a space for mankind within Himself. This God must live within us, and we in Him. This is our call as priests; only in this way can our priestly activity prove fruitful."

  The Holy Father recalled the words of Fr. Andrea Santoro, a priest of the diocese of Rome who was murdered in Turkey on February 5 this year while at prayer: "I am here to live among these people and to allow Jesus to do so by lending Him my flesh. Only by offering our own flesh do we become capable of salvation. The evil of the world must be borne and the pain must be shared, absorbing it in our own flesh right to the end, just as Jesus did."

  Later, at 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Benedict XVI presided at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. During the celebration, imitating the gesture of the Lord towards His Apostles, the Pope washed the feet of 12 people, all of them lay men. At the presentation of the gifts, he was given the alms collected for rebuilding the homes of victims of recent landslides in Maasin, Philippines.

  In his homily, the Pope pointed out how "God comes down and becomes a slave, He washes our feet that we may sit at His table. This expresses all the mystery of Jesus Christ. This makes the meaning of redemption visible."

  After emphasizing how the Lord's love "knows no limits, but man can put a limit to it," the Pope asked "what makes mankind unclean?" It is, he said, "rejection of love, not wishing to be loved, not loving. It is pride, that believes it needs no purification and closes itself off from the salvific goodness of God. It is pride, that does not wish to confess and recognize that we have need of purification."

  The Lord today "invites us to imitate His humility, to entrust ourselves to it, to allow ourselves to be 'infected' by it. He invites us - however lost we may feel - to return home and allow His purifying humility to raise us up and enable us to enter into communion with Him, with God Himself."

  "Washing one another's feet means above all tirelessly forgiving one another, always starting out anew however useless it may seem. It means purifying one another by supporting one another and accepting support from others, purifying one another by giving each another the sanctifying power of the Word of God and introducing each other to the Sacrament of divine love."
BXVI-HOLY WEEK/HOLY THURSDAY/...                    VIS 20060420 (610)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 12, 2006 (VIS) - As previously advised, due to the Easter holy days, which are holidays in the Vatican, and to the celebration of the first anniversary of the election of Benedict XVI, also a Vatican holiday, no further VIS transmissions are scheduled until Thursday, April 20, 2005.
.../.../...                                        VIS 20060412 (60)


VATICAN CITY, APR 12, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Joseph Kwaku Afrifah-Agyekum, diocesan administrator, as bishop of Koforidua (area 19,323, population 2,500,000, Catholics 201,500, priests 76, religious 92), Ghana. The bishop-elect was born in Akimu Swedru, Ghana in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1983.
NER/.../AFRIFAH-AGYEKUM                        VIS 20060412 (60)


VATICAN CITY, APR 12, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis at today's general audience to the Easter Triduum. "Through the sacred rites," he told the 40,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, "we relive the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, reawakening the desire to follow Jesus more closely."

  He went on to explain how: "Holy Thursday commemorates Christ's total giving of Himself to humanity in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Through the washing of feet, it also recalls in a dramatic way the new commandment to love one another. The day concludes with Eucharistic adoration in memory of Our Lord's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  "On Good Friday, we listen to the account of the Passion and contemplate Christ on the Cross. This is love in its most radical form: God gives His very self, in order to raise us up and save us. During Holy Saturday the Church is spiritually united with Mary, praying by the tomb of the Son of God who lies at rest after completing His work of redemption. Then, at the solemn Easter Vigil, the joyful Gloria and Easter Alleluia rise forth from the hearts of the whole Christian community, because Christ is risen and has defeated death!"

  The Pope also called on those present to prepare themselves for Easter through the Sacrament of Confession. "We know we are sinners," he said, "but we trust in divine mercy. Let us be reconciled with Christ in order to enjoy more intensely the joy He communicates to us with His resurrection. His forgiveness, which is given to us in the Sacrament of Penance, is the source of interior and exterior peace and makes us apostles of peace in a world still marked, alas, by divisions and suffering, and by the drama of injustice, hatred, violence and the incapacity to achieve reconciliation and begin again in sincere forgiveness."

  The celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, said Benedict XVI, "gives us the certainty that evil does not have the last word; supported by this certain knowledge we can commit ourselves with greater courage and enthusiasm to creating a fairer world."
AG/EASTER:EVIL/...                                VIS 20060412 (370)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. on Thursday, April 20, a press conference will be held to present the celebrations being organized to mark the fifth centenary of St. Peter's Basilica.

  Participating in the press conference will be Cardinals Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the basilica, and Albert Vanhoye S.J., rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical College; Archbishop Angelo Comastri and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, respectively president and delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Antonio Paolucci, superintendent of the Florentine Museums and curator of the exhibition, "Petros Eni;" and Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, bureau chief at the Fabric of St. Peter's.
OP/CENTENARY VATICAN BASILICA/...                    VIS 20060411 (120)


VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2006 (VIS) - According to a communique made public this morning by the Vatican Publishing House, the text of the meditations for this year's Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) will be available from today, Tuesday April 11, in religious bookshops and at major chains of booksellers.

  The Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 14, will be the first to be led by Benedict XVI. The meditations, written by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, prelate emeritus of Loreto and His Holiness' vicar general for Vatican City State, "invite us to reflect upon the devastating power of sin and, at the same time, encourage us to contemplate the healing power of God's love clearly expressed in the cross of Christ," the communique reads.

  Apart from Italy, the text is also to be released in Germany and the United States where it is being published by the publishing houses of Herder and Ignatius Press respectively.
.../VIA CRUCIS/LEV:COMASTRI                        VIS 20060411 (170)

Monday, April 10, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 9, 2006 (VIS) - Thousands of young people from all over the world participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square this morning, Palm Sunday and 21st World Youth Day, which has as its theme this year "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

  Before the Mass, Benedict XVI blessed palms and olive branches near the obelisk in St. Peter's Square, before moving in procession to the altar.

  At the beginning of his homily, the Holy Father recalled how for 20 years, "thanks to John Paul II, Palm Sunday has become a special day for young people; the day on which youth all over the world go out to meet Christ in the desire to accompany Him into their cities and countries, that He may remain among us and establish His peace in the world.

  "If we want to go out and meet Jesus, and walk alongside Him on His journey, we must however ask: along what path does He intend to lead us? What do we expect from Him? What does He expect from us?"

  Commenting the words of Zechariah on the king to come, who "will be a king of the poor, a poor man among the poor and for the poor," Benedict XVI pointed out how "one can be materially poor and yet have one's heart full of desire for wealth and for the power that derives from wealth. ... Interior freedom is a necessary condition for overcoming the corruption and avidity that are now devastating the world; and this freedom can be found only if God becomes our wealth."

  The Prophet Zechariah "also shows us that this king will be a king of peace," the Pope went on, and this aspect "takes concrete form in the sign of the cross. ... The new weapon that Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, a sign of reconciliation, a sign of the love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the sign of the cross we must remember not to meet injustice with injustice, violence with violence; we must remember that we can conquer evil only with good, and never by repaying evil with evil."

  Zechariah's third affirmation, the Holy Father added, is "the announcement of universality. ... Christ reigns by becoming our bread and giving Himself to us. This is the way in which He builds His kingdom." Through the Eucharist "we enter His kingdom of peace. In Him we welcome, in some way, all our brothers and sisters to whom He comes, in order truly to become a kingdom of peace in the midst of this divided world."

  "These three characteristics announced by the prophet - poverty, peace and universality - come together in the sign of the cross. It is for this reason, and rightly so, that the cross has become the focal point of World Youth Days. There was a time, a time that has not yet been completely left behind, in which Christianity was rejected precisely because of the cross. The cross represents sacrifice, it was said, the cross is a sign of the negation of life. What we want, however, is life entire, without restrictions or renunciation."

  "And Palm Sunday tells us that that the real great 'yes' is the cross, that the cross is the real tree of life. We do not find life by seizing it but by giving it. Love is a giving of self and for this reason it is the way of true life symbolized by the cross."
HML/PALM SUNDAY/...                            VIS 20060410 (610)


VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Benoit Riviere, auxiliary of Marseille, France, as bishop of Autun (area 8,575, population 547,000, Catholics 522,000, priests 260, permanent deacons 24, religious 522), France. He succeeds Bishop Raymond Seguy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Ramon Castro Castro, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Yucatan, Mexico, as bishop of Campeche (area 55,858, population 752,000, Catholics 601,600, priests 59, religious 151), Mexico.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France; and Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain.

 - Appointed Fr. Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., chancellor of the diocesan Curia of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 711,300, population 4,433,300, Catholics 40,000, priests 17, religious 34). The bishop-elect was born in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1990.

 - Granted the ecclesial communion requested of him by His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, canonically elected as Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts on March 30, 2006 by the Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church.
NER:NA:NEA/.../...                                VIS 20060410 (220)


VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, president of the Republic of Togo, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

 - His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
AP/.../...                                        VIS 20060410 (70)


VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that Benedict XVI will make an apostolic trip to Poland from May 25 to 28, 2006. The Holy Father is to visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz.
OP/TRIP POPE POLAND/NAVARRO-VALLS                VIS 20060410 (60)


VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope today received representatives from the Krakow-based Polish publishing house ZNAK whose activities, he said, "make a valuable contribution to the formation of the spiritual face of Krakow, Poland and the Church."

  ZNAK's operations, Benedict XVI added, are not limited to publishing books, but also extend "to promoting Christian culture in the broadest sense and to charitable activities," and he thanked them for publishing his own works in Polish.

  The Holy Father then pointed out that the ZNAK representatives' visit to Rome coincides with the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II who "while still bishop of Krakow showed special concern for ZNAK. ... He always appreciated the active participation of lay people in the life of the Church and supported their proper initiatives. It was no coincidence that it was to your publishing house that he entrusted his last book, 'Memory and Identity'."

  "I am certain," Pope Benedict concluded, "that his patronage continues still, and that he implores the blessing and graces of God for you. I ask you - in honor of his memory - to remain faithful to Christ and to the Church. May your zeal in propagating a culture based on eternal values never be extinguished!"
AC/CULTURE/ZNAK PUBLISHERS                        VIS 20060410 (220)

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