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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Erected the new diocese of Fajardo-Humacao (area 574, population 293,000, Catholics 97,869, priests 22) Puerto Rico, with territory taken from the archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico and from the diocese of Caguas, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of San Juan de Puerto Rico. He appointed Fr. Eusebio Ramos Morales of the clergy of Caguas, pastor of the parish of "Santisimo Redentor" at Fajardo as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1983.

- Appointed Fr. Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo, bursar of the diocese of Bethlehem, South Africa, as bishop of Eshowe (area 26,364, population 2,200,000, Catholics 76,095, priests 57, religious 131), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Gogela, South Africa in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1991.

 - Appointed Msgr. Felipe Salazar Villagrana, diocesan administrator of San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,000, population 974,000, Catholics 951,000, priests 315, religious 519). The bishop-elect was born in Amatlan de Canas, Mexico, in 1940 and ordained a priest in 1968.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2008 (VIS) - "'Magnificenze Vaticane'. Masterpieces of Art from the Collections of the Fabric of St. Peter's" is the title of an exhibition due to be inaugurated this afternoon at Palazzo Incontro in Rome. It will remain open until 25 May.

  The exhibition is being promoted by the Province of Rome and by the European Centre for Tourism. It includes more than 130 works on display for the first time, recovered from storage in the Vatican Basilica, restored and examined by experts. "Magnificenze Vaticane" is divided into various interrelated but autonomous sections including architecture, painting and sculpture.

  "The aim of such a meticulous distinction", says a communique announcing the initiative, "is to show the plurality of interventions on a single site (the basilica of St. Peters) and to bear witness to the quality of workmanship even in fields usually held to be of lesser importance". Above all, the communique continues, the aim is to reveal "the variety and creative ability of the main figures on the Roman artistic scene who in all times - from the 14th to the 20th century - aspired to leave their mark on the Vatican Basilica".

  "The papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, universally known as the centre of Christianity, houses a vast number of important monuments, the fruit of the abilities and creativity of the greatest artists of all ages. Yet before their sparks of genius were immortalised in stone or bronze, there was a phase in which the work of art was planned and assessed. The rediscovery of traces of this precious heritage of the past ... is the theme of this great and unique exhibition". The communique also recalls that the Fabric of St. Peter's was established by Julius II in 1506 to oversee the various phases of the building of the new basilica and to guarantee its subsequent maintenance.

  Among the little-known works on display will be a roll of damask with the arms of Pope Alexander VII, pyramidal reliquaries by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, candelabra and crosses purchased by Pope Pius IX from the king of Naples, and a series of eighteenth-century altar hangings in silk and gold.

  The 1400s are represented in the sculpture section with the Four Evangelists by Mino da Fiesole and Giovanni Dalmata, while the Baroque is present in the form of works attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Aligardi. In the painting section, fragments and frescoes from the interior of the basilica of St. Peter's will be on display for the first time. Documents from the General Historical Archive of the Fabric signed by Benevenuto Cellini, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, Bernini and others will also be on show.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2008 (VIS) - On 9 March Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. concluded his visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan, countries visited by John Paul II in 2001 and 2002 respectively. The cardinal's visit to Armenia was postponed for two days because of a state of emergency declared in that country in the wake of recent protests.

  Cardinal Bertone met with His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, in his see of Etchmiadzin, and consigned him a Letter from Benedict XVI in which the Pope expresses his hopes for peace in the country and for continuation along the path of ecumenism. The cardinal subsequently went on to meet representatives of the Catholic community of Armenia, which is a minority in the country.

  On 6 March, Cardinal Bertone began the second stage of his journey, travelling to Azerbaijan where, in the capital city of Baku, he inaugurated in the new Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception, a sign, the cardinal said, "of true religious tolerance" in a land with a Muslim majority.

  One of the most symbolic moments of the cardinal's visit to this former Soviet republic (in which 94.3 percent of the population is Muslim) was his visit to the mosque of Baku. Allashukur Pashazade, head of Muslims in the Caucasus, recevied the cardinal in his residence in the presence of religious leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and of the Jewish community.

  After visiting the mosque, Cardinal Bertone participated in a prayer of welcome at the Russian Orthodox cathedral where he expressed the hope that, as soon as possible, "the visible unity of the Church may be expressed". He then went on to visit the synagogue of Baku.

  The final event of the secretary of State's visit to Azerbaijan was his celebration of Mass on 9 March in Baku's new Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception, where he addressed words of encouragement to the Catholic community of the country. The church has been built on land donated to John Paul II on his 2002 visit by President Heydar Aliyev, father of the current head of State.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico.

 - Frere Alois, prior of the community of Taize.

 - Archbishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Cap-Haiten, Haiti on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Hubert Constant O.M.I.

 - Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, president of the German Episcopal Conference.

  On Saturday 8 March he received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, apostolic nuncio to Rwanda.

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

    - Bishop Mario Alberto Molina Palma O.A.R. of Quiche.

    - Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vasquez S.J. of Solola-Chimaltenango.

    - Bishop Pablo Vizcaino Prado of Suchitequepez-Retalhuleu.

    - Bishop Gabriel Penate Rodriguez, apostolic vicar of Izabal.

    - Fr. Octavio Sassu O.P., pro-vicar of the apostolic vicariate of El Peten.
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