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

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope began his remarks to them by recalling the figure of Cardinal Paul Joseph Phan Ding, who died in February and was for many years archbishop of Hanoi. He also expressed his hope that "the example of sanctity, humility and simplicity of life of the great pastors of your country may stimulate you in your pastoral ministry at the service of the Vietnamese people, to whom goes my profound esteem".

  Referring then to the Year for Priests, Benedict XVI pointed out that, "in order to be reliable guides who conform to the heart of God and the teaching of the Church, priests must develop interior life and tend towards sanctity, like the humble Cure of Ars".

  "In your pastoral letter of last year", he reminded the prelates, "you dedicated particular attention to the lay faithful, highlighting the role of their vocation in the family". In this context, the Pope indicated that "lay Catholics must - through lives based on charity, honour and love for the common good - show that a good Catholic is also a good citizen. To this end, pay particular attention to their correct formation, promoting their life of faith ... that they may effectively serve the Church and society".

  The Holy Father also spoke of his hope that attention be given to "appropriate pastoral care for internally displaced youth, beginning with reinforcing ... collaboration between the dioceses of origin of the young people and the dioceses of destination, giving them ethical advice and practical guidance".

  After then recalling how 2010 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the episcopal hierarchy in Vietnam, the Pope said: "On this occasion the People of God are invited to give thanks for the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. This gift has been generously accepted, lived and witnessed by many martyrs who wished to proclaim the truth and universality of faith in God".

  "Closer collaboration between different dioceses is necessary", Benedict XVI went on, "as it is between dioceses and religious congregations, and among the congregations themselves".

  "Healthy collaboration between the Church and the political community is possible. ... The Church does not seek to substitute government, rather her only desire, through a spirit of dialogue and respectful collaboration, is to participate in life of the nation, at the service of all people".

  The Pope concluded by highlighting how religions "are not a danger for the unity of the nation, because their goal is to help people to sanctity and, through their institutions, wish to place themselves generously and disinterestedly at the service of others".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father welcomed a delegation sent to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul by His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. An ecumenical delegation traditionally visits Rome for the 29 June feast, while a delegation from Rome attends celebrations in Istanbul for the 30 November Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

  This year the delegation was made up of Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope, assistant to the Metropolitan of Belgium, and Deacon Ioakim Billis of Fanar.

  Greeting them the Pope gave thanks to God "for all the fruits and benefits brought by the celebration of the bi-millennium of the birth of St. Paul". Together, he said, we will celebrate "the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the 'protothroni' of the Apostles as they are known in Orthodox tradition, in other words those who hold first place among the Apostles and are called 'masters of ecumenism'".

  "With your presence here", the Holy Father went on, "which is a sign of ecclesiastical fraternity, you remind us of our shared commitment to achieve full communion. You already know, but I wish to reaffirm, that the Catholic Church seeks to contribute in every possible way to the re-establishment of full unity, thus responding to the will of Christ for His disciples and recalling Paul's own teaching which tells us that we are called to be 'a single hope'".

  In this context the Holy Father spoke of his "confidence in the progress of the activities" of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox. The commission is due to meet in October "to examine a crucial aspect of relations between East and West: the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church during the first millennium".

  "Such study", he continued, "is an indispensable step towards gaining a deeper understanding of this question in the current context of the search for full communion". Benedict XVI also pointed out that the commission will be received by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus which he thanked for its "fraternal welcome ... which will facilitate our task and our mutual understanding".

  "I wish participants in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue to be aware that my prayers accompany them always and that such dialogue enjoys the support of the Catholic Church", concluded the Holy Father. "It is my heartfelt wish that the fraternal misunderstandings and tensions that arose among Orthodox delegates during recent plenary sessions of the commission be overcome in fraternal love, so this dialogue may more broadly represent Orthodoxy".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 23 June, in which he appoints Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, as pontifical legate to solemn celebrations marking the millennium of Lithuania. The celebrations are due to take place in the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius on 6 July.

  The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Grintaras Grusas, secretary of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference; Fr. Lionginas Virbalas S.J.; Msgr. Piero Pioppo, nunciature counsellor at the Secretariat of State, and Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, nunciature counsellor of the apostolic nunciature to Lithuania.


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

    - Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Francois Xavier Le Van Hong.

    - Bishop Vincent Nguyen Van Ban of Ban Me Thuot.

    - Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Da Nang.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope spoke of the Pauline Year, due to come to an end this evening in a ceremony at the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. "It has been", he said, "a true period of grace during which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, numerous publications and various other initiatives, the figure of St. Paul has been presented afresh to the entire Church, and his powerful message has revived a passion for Christ and the Gospel in Christian communities everywhere".

  Pope Benedict then went on to refer to the newly-inaugurated Year for Priests, called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the "Cure of Ars", and the aim of which "is to help promote the commitment to interior renewal among all priests", that they may provide "stronger and more incisive evangelical witness in today's world"

  In this context, said the Pope, the Apostle Paul "represents a magnificent model to be imitated ... in love for Christ, in zeal for announcing the Gospel, in dedication to communities, in elaborating effective summaries of pastoral theology. St. Paul was an example of a priest completely identified with his ministry - as the holy 'Cure of Ars' would also be - aware he was bearing a priceless treasure - that is the message of salvation - though carrying it in a clay jar'".

  "'The love of Christ possesses us', the Apostle wrote", Benedict XVI concluded, "and this could well be a motto for priests, whom the Spirit has 'captivated' to make them faithful administrators of the mysteries of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father presided at first Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. The ceremony, which officially closed the Pauline Year, was also attended by a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, headed by His Eminence Emmanuel, metropolitan of France.

  Benedict XVI, standing before the sarcophagus of the Apostle Paul which lies under the main altar, recalled how a recent scientific analysis of the tomb had revealed the presence of a costly purple linen fabric, grains of incense and bone fragments which a carbon-14 test has dated to the first or second centuries. "This", he said, "seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul, and it fills our heart with profound emotion".

  Paul, said the Holy Father, remains the "'Master of the Gentiles' who wished to carry the message of the risen Christ to all men and women, because Christ has known and loved them all, He died and rose again for them all". In his Letter to the Romans the Apostle makes it clear "that with Christ a new way of venerating God, a new form of worship, has begun. ... It is no longer things that are offered to God, it is our very lives that must become praise of God".

  This Letter uses two decisive words, "transformation and renewal", said the Pope and he went on: "We must become new men and new women, transformed in a new way of existence. The world is always seeking novelty because, quite rightly, it is always discontented with concrete reality. Paul tells us that the world cannot be renewed without new men and women. ... The Apostle exhorts us to non-conformity. In this Letter he tells us not to succumb to the blueprint of the current age".

  Paul explains this process more clearly "saying that we become new if we transform our way of thinking" and that "such renewal must be complete. ... The mind of old man, the common way of thinking, generally aims at possession, wellbeing, influence, success, fame and so on. But this has too limited a scope; in the final analysis, it is the 'self' that remains at the centre of the world. We must learn to think more deeply, ... we must learn to understand God's will so that it moulds our own will, so that we ourselves want what God wants, so that we recognise that what God wants is beautiful and good".

  In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle says that "with Christ we must reach adulthood, mature humanity. ... Paul wants Christians to have 'responsible' faith, 'adult' faith. The phrase 'adult faith' has become a common slogan over recent decades. It is often understood as the attitude of those who no longer listen to the Church and her pastors, but autonomously choose what they wish to believe and not to believe: a sort of 'do-it-yourself' faith. This is also presented as the 'courage' to go against the Magisterium of the Church. The truth, however, is that it requires no courage because one is always certain of garnering public sympathy.

  "What does require courage", he added, "is to adhere to the faith of the Church even if this contradicts the blueprint of the modern world. It is the 'non-conformity' of faith that Paul calls 'adult faith'. What he considers childlike is to charge after all the winds and currents of the age".

  The Holy Father went on: "Part of adult faith, for example, is commitment to the inviolability of human life from the very first moment, thus radically opposing the principle of violence by defending the most helpless human creatures. Part of adult faith is recognising lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, as ordained by God and re-established by Christ. Adult faith does not allow itself to be blown here and there by the slightest breeze".

  "Yet Paul does not limit himself to mere negation, he leads us on to the great 'yes'. ... The new way of thinking that faith has given us is primarily directed towards truth. The power of evil is falsehood. The power of faith, the power of God, is truth. ... God makes Himself visible to us in the face of Jesus Christ. And looking at Christ we recognise another thing: that truth and charity are inseparable".

  "The Apostle tells us that, by working according to truth in charity, we contribute to ensuring that everything - the universe - develops towards Christ. On the basis of his faith, Paul is not simply concerned for our personal rectitude or for the growth of the Church. ... The ultimate goal of Christ's work is the universe, the transformation of the universe, of the entire human world, of all creation. Those who, together with Christ, serve the truth in charity contribute to the true progress of the world".

  Finally, Benedict XVI recalled how in the Letter to the Ephesians the Apostle speaks of the need to strengthen "'inner being'. ... The inner vacuum - the weakness of inner being - is one of the great problems of our age", he said. "Inner life must be strengthened: the perception of the heart, the capacity to see and understand the world and mankind from within, with the heart. We need a reason illuminated by the heart so as to learn to act according to the truth in charity".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were 34 new metropolitan archbishops, upon whom he imposed the pallium.

  At the beginning of the ceremony, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to members of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, headed by His Eminence Emmanuel, metropolitan of France and director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union.

  In his homily Benedict XVI commented on the First Letter of St. Peter, explaining that it focuses on the figure of Christ and highlighting how the Apostle describes Him as "shepherd and guardian of ... souls" while, in the same context, the Greek text uses the word "episcopos" (bishop).

  "It is surprising the Peter should call Christ Himself bishop, bishop of souls", said the Pope. "What this means is that He sees us from God's perspective. Looking from God's standpoint gives an overall view, the dangers are evident but also the hopes and the possibilities. From God's perspective one sees the essence, one sees the inner man. If Christ is the bishop of souls, the aim is to ensure that man's soul does not become impoverished, that man does not lose his essence, his capacity for truth and love; the aim is to ensure that he comes to recognise God, that he is not lost up blind alleys, that he does not lose himself in isolation. ... In this perspective, being a bishop, being a priest, means ... making oneself available to human beings that they may find life".

  "The word 'bishop' is closely related to the word 'shepherd'", said the Pope explaining how the pastor "must be capable of resisting the enemy, the wolves; he must go before, show the way, maintain the unity of the flock. ... This is what being a pastor, model to the flock, means: living the word now, in the great community of holy Church".

  "As pastors of our own times we, more than others, have the duty to understand the reason of the faith; the duty not to allow it to remain mere tradition but to recognise it as the answer to our questions. ... Part of our duties as pastors is to penetrate the faith with our minds in order to show the reasons for our hope in the disputes of our age. ... Faith must not remain a theory, it must become life. ... From such a living certainty stems the capacity to communicate the faith believably to others".

  At the beginning of his Letter, St. Peter "tells us that the outcome of our faith is the salvation of souls", said the Holy Father. In this context he highlighted how "lack of concern for souls, inner impoverishment of man, destroys not only the individual but threatens the destiny of all humankind. Without the healing of souls, without the healing of man from within, there can be no salvation for humanity. The true sickness of souls is defined by St. Peter as ignorance, in other words as non knowledge of God. Those who do not know God, those who do not at least seek Him sincerely, remain excluded from true life".

  "It is obedience to the truth that purifies the soul, and coexistence with falsehood that pollutes it. Obedience to the truth begins with the small truths of daily life, which can often be tiring and painful. This obedience then extends to unreserved obedience towards Truth itself, which is Christ. Such obedience makes us not only pure, but above all free for service to Christ, and so to the salvation of the world".

  Finally, turning to address the new metropolitan archbishops, the Pope told them that the pallium they were about to receive "reminds us of the flock of Jesus Christ, which you must feed in communion with Peter. ... It reminds us of the fact the He, supreme Pastor, made Himself a Lamb in order to assume all our destinies, to carry us and heal us from within".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered below.

  On this Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI addressed a special greeting to faithful of his own diocese of Rome, assuring them of his constant prayers "that Rome may uphold its Christian vocation by maintaining unadulterated its immense spiritual and cultural heritage", and "that its inhabitants may translate the beauty of the faith they have received into concrete forms of thought and action, thus offering those who ... come to this city, an atmosphere charged with humanity and evangelical values".

  "Today's Solemnity also has a universal aspect", he went on. "It expresses the unity and catholicity of the Church. That is why every year on this day, the new metropolitan archbishops come to Rome to receive the pallium, symbol of their communion with Peter's Successor".

  "May the shared veneration of these martyrs [Peter and Paul] be a sign of an ever greater and more deeply felt communion among Christians all over the world".

  Following the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI indicated that "the publication of my third Encyclical, entitled 'Caritas in veritate', is now imminent. Returning to the social themes contained in 'Populorum progressio' written by Servant of God Paul VI in 1967, this document - dated today 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles - aims to delve more deeply into certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity and of truth.

  "To your prayers I entrust this latest contribution made by the Church to mankind, in her commitment to sustainable development while fully respecting human dignity and the real needs of everyone", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received the 34 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he imposed the pallium yesterday, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. The archbishops were accompanied by members of their families.

  The Holy Father addressed the prelates in various languages. To the new Italian archbishops he expressed the hope that, during the recently-inaugurated Year for Priests, they would "be exemplary pastors, zealous and rich in love for the Lord and for your communities. Thus you will guide and provide solid support for priests, your primary collaborators in pastoral ministry, and co-operate effectively in spreading the Kingdom of God throughout the beloved land of Italy".

  Benedict XVI also had words of encouragement for new Spanish-speaking archbishops: "Following the footsteps of the Good Pastor", he said, "always be signs of unity among your faithful, strengthening bonds of communion with Peter's Successor, with your suffragan bishops and with everyone who collaborates in your evangelising mission. In this Year for Priests that has just begun, keep your clergy very close to your hearts. They expect to be kindly treated by you, like fathers and brothers who accept them, listen to them and show concern for them".

  The Pope also thanked Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine, for "the service he has given the Church, as a collaborator of mine and, prior to that, of my venerated predecessor John Paul II".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2009 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., in the Holy Father's name, to Archbishop Benvenuto Italo Castellani of Lucca, Italy, for yesterday's explosion of a goods train in the station of Viareggio which left thirteen dead and many injured, some critically.

  "Having learned the news of the serious accident at the station of Viareggio, the Supreme Pontiff expresses his heartfelt participation in the suffering afflicting the entire city. While giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the souls of those who have so tragically died, he invokes from the Lord a speedy recovery for the injured and, entrusting those affected by this dramatic event to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, he sends a special and comforting apostolic blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Gerard Tlali Lerotholi O.M.I., professor at the National University of Lesotho and at the Seminary of St. Augustine, as archbishop of Maseru (area 7,739, population 813,362, Catholics 364,858, priests 87, religious 386), Lesotho. The archbishop-elect was born in St. James Mission, Lesotho in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1982. He succeeds Archbishop Bernard Mohlalisi O.M.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Augustinus Tumaole Bane O.M.I., superior of the "Mater Jesu Scholasticate, Roma" in Maseru, Lesotho, as bishop of Leribe (area 5,129, population 424,400, Catholics 230,639, priests 39, religious 226), Lesotho. The bishop-elect was born in Motsistseng, Mokhotlong, Lesotho in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1977. He succeeds Bishop Paul Khoarai, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 27 June it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Manuel da Silva Rodrigues Linda of the clergy of the diocese of Vila Real, Portugal, rector of the diocesan seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Braga (area 2,857, population 959,000, Catholics 881,900, priests 524, permanent deacons 8, religious 733), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Paus, Portugal in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981.

 - Fr. Fernando Jose Castro Aguayo of the clergy of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, episcopal vicar for pastoral care in the eastern zone of the archdiocese of Caracas, Venezuela, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 790, population 4,292,000, Catholics 3,749,000, priests 560, permanent deacons 8, religious 1,769). The bishop-elect was born in Caracas in 1951 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - Stefano Fralleoni, official of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as accountant general of the same institution.
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Friday, June 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. Monday 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration with the following 34 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he will impose the pallium:

 - Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria.

 - Archbishop Domingo Diaz Martinez of Tulancingo, Mexico.

 - Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Canada.

 - Archbishop Sergio da Rocha, Brazil.

 - Archbishop Giuseppe Bertori of Florence, Italy.

 - Archbishop Salvatore Pappalardo of Siracusa, Italy.

 - Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine.

 - Archbishop Mauricio Grotto de Camargo of Botucatu, Brazil.

 - Archbishop Joseph Ake Yapo of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast.

 - Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo C.M.M. of Pretoria, South Africa.

 - Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo.

 - Archbishop Manuel Felipe Diaz Sanchez of Calabozo, Venezuela.

 - Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, El Salvador.

 - Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. of Vancouver, Canada.

 - Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron of Detroit, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia, Spain.

 - Archbishop Gil Antonio Moreira of Juiz de Fora, Brazil.

 - Archbishop Victor Sanchez Espinosa of Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico.

 - Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.

 - Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga O.F.M. Cap. of Bedan, Indonesia.

 - Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale, Ghana.

 - Archbishop Ismael Rueda Sierra of Bucaramanga, Colombia.

 - Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland.

 - Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta O. Cist. of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 - Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, England.

 - Archbishop Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio of Lecce, Italy.

 - Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez Plata of Toledo, Spain.

 - Archbishop Robert James Carlson of Saint Louis, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

 - Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand.

 - Archbishop George Joseph Lucas of Omaha, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka.


VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2009 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls in Rome, and Pier Carlo Visconti, delegate for the administration of the same basilica, held a briefing on the closure of the Pauline Year.

  The cardinal recalled how the Year came into being as a "thematic year" with two fundamental objectives: "To increase people's knowledge of, and invite them to meditate upon, the valuable message left to us by the Apostle of the Gentiles in his writings, which are often difficult and little known or poorly interpreted", and "to create various programmes in the ecumenical dimension, which means working to an ever greater degree with non-Catholic Christian communities on various initiatives of prayer, study and culture".

  During the course of the Pauline Year, inaugurated by the Pope on 28 June 2008, the basilica welcomed tens of thousands of pilgrims. "On 1 May 2009 alone more than eighteen thousand pilgrims came to the basilica", explained the cardinal, "and over recent weeks we have certainly seen more than ten thousand a day".

  Among the ecclesial events of the Pauline Year, the cardinal mentioned "the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, which the Pope wished should be inaugurated in the basilica of St. Paul in October 2008, ... the 'Sinaxis' celebrated by all the patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches in Constantinople, followed by a congress focusing on specifically Pauline issues", and "visits to Rome by patriarchs accompanied by large delegations from the Oriental Churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic".

  "In the Church of Rome, but also and above all in the various local Churches, ... the celebration of the second millennium of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles was perceived and experienced as a fresh stimulus, a further reason to work towards evangelisation. This was also felt in the Orthodox Churches and in many other Christian communities, and has become a shared commitment on the path to recreating unity among Christians".

  As for the papal basilica itself, during the Pauline Year "an opening was made in the ancient fifth century brickwork surrounding Paul's tomb under the main altar, so that pilgrims could see one side of the great marble sarcophagus, which has never been opened and which has held the mortal remains of the Apostle for the last twenty centuries". The basilica was also used for concerts of religious music and for other cultural initiatives.

  "The Pauline Year is coming to an end", said Cardinal Montezemolo, "but the great ferment of pastoral initiatives, catechesis, and cultural events is destined to continue and to find a large following at both the local and the continental level. The Pauline Door ... will remain open, and the Pauline flame lit by the Holy Father at the beginning of this year will continue to burn in the quadriporticus, ... reminding all the pilgrims who continue to arrive from every corner of the globe of the richness and profundity of the Word of God transmitted to us by the Apostle of the Gentiles".

  Finally the archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls announced that "over this very period, to mark the closure of the Pauline Year, the Holy Father is sending seven pontifical delegations, each led by a cardinal, to seven places associated with the Apostle Paul: the Holy Land, Damascus, Tarsus, Cyprus, Athens, Malta and Lebanon".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hai Phong.

    - Bishop Antoine Vu Huy Chuong of Hung Hoa.

    - Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of Lang Son et Cao Bang.

    - Bishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Sang of Thai Binh.

    - Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Thanh Hoa.

    - Bishop Paul-Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen of Vinh.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO). The meeting had focused on the situation in the Holy Land and on the Catholic Church in Bulgaria.

  "Charity", said the Pope, "is the fertile source of all forms of service to the Church, it is their measure, their method and the means by which they are verified. Through your membership of ROACO you wish to live in charity, making yourselves available to the Bishop of Rome through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. In this way you will be able to continue, even to augment, that 'movement of charity which, by papal mandate, the Congregation supervises so that, in a disciplined and equitable way, the Holy Land and other eastern regions may receive the spiritual and material support necessary for ordinary ecclesial life and for special needs".

  After then recalling his own recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Benedict XVI went on: "I renew my prayer and my appeal for no more war, no more violence, no more injustice. I wish to assure you that the Universal Church remains at the side of all our brothers and sisters who reside in the Holy Land. This concern is reflected in a special way in the annual Holy Land collection. I therefore exhort your ROACO agencies to continue their charitable activities with zeal and with fidelity to the Successor of Peter".

  The Pope also turned his attention to the recently inaugurated Year for Priests, calling upon his audience "to give maximum attention to caring for clergy and supporting seminaries". He also recalled how, in inaugurating this Jubilee Year on 19 June, "I entrusted all the priests of the world to the Heart of Christ and of Mary Immaculate, with a special thought for those who, in both East and West are experiencing moments of difficulty and trial. I take this occasion", he concluded, "to ask you too to pray for priests".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Fra' Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accompanied by an entourage.

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

    - Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Laurent Chu Van Minh.

    - Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat S.J. of Bac Ninh.

    - Bishop Joseph Hoang Van Tiem S.D.B. of Bui Chu, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Pierre Nguyen Van De S.D.B.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2009 (VIS) - During today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the Year for Priests which he inaugurated last Friday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and day of prayer for the sanctification of the clergy, and which is intended to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney.

  "Why a Year for Priests?" the Pope asked. "And why should it recall the holy 'Cure of Ars' who apparently did nothing out of the ordinary?"

  The Holy Father went on to explain how "Divine Providence ordained that the figure [of St. John May Vianney] should be associated with that of St. Paul" because, "although the two saints followed very different life paths, ... these exists nonetheless a fundamental factor that unites them: their total identification with their ministry, their communion with Christ".

  "The aim of this Year for Priests", he went on, "is to support each priest's struggle towards spiritual perfection, 'upon which the effectiveness of his ministry particularly depends', and to help priests, and with them the entire People of God, to rediscover and revive an awareness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained ministry represents, for the person who receives it, for the entire Church, and for the world which would be lost without the real presence of Christ".

  "Although the historical and social conditions in which the 'Cure of Ars' worked have changed, it is right to ask how priests can imitate him by identifying themselves with their ministry in modern globalised societies", said the Pope.

  "In a world in which the common view of life leaves ever less space for the sacred, in place of which 'functionality' becomes the only decisive category, the Catholic concept of priesthood could risk losing its due regard, sometimes even in the ecclesial conscience".

  The Holy Father identified two conceptions of the priesthood, "which do not in fact contradict one another". On the one hand "a social-functional conception which identifies the essence of priesthood with the concept of 'service'. ... On the other hand there is a sacramental-ontological conception" which sees priestly ministry "as determined by a gift called Sacrament, granted by the Lord through the mediation of the Church".

  "What", the Pope asked, "does it mean for priests to evangelise? In what does the primacy of announcement exist? ... Announcement coincides with the person of Christ", he said, "a priest cannot consider himself as 'master' of the Word, but as its servant".

  "Only participation in Christ's sacrifice, in His 'chenosi', ... and docile obedience to the Church ... makes announcement authentic. ... Priests are Christ's servants, in the sense that their existence, ontologically configured to Him, have an essentially relational character. The priest is in Christ, for Christ and with Christ at the service of humankind. Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of man".

  Benedict XVI concluded by expressing the hope that "the Year for Priests may lead all the clergy to identify themselves completely with Christ Who died and rose again, so that, imitating St. John the Baptist, they may be ready 'to diminish' that He may grow; and that, following the example of the 'Cure of Ars', they may be constantly and profoundly aware of their mission, which is both sign and presence of the infinite mercy of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father greeted a delegation headed by Radhika Coomaraswamy, under secretary general of the United Nations and special representative for children and armed conflict.

  The Pope expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by Ms. Coomaraswamy and her collaborators "to defend the child victims of violence and arms, I am thinking of all the children of the world, especially those who suffer fear, abandonment, hunger, abuses, sickness and death. The Pope remains close to all these young victims and always remembers them in his prayers".

  He then went on to recall that on 24 June 1859, 150 years ago today, "was born the idea for a great movement to assist the victims of war, a movement which later took the name of Red Cross.

  "With the passage of the years", the Holy Father added, "the values of universality, neutrality and independence of service have aroused the support of millions of volunteers all over the world, creating an important bulwark of humanity and solidarity in numerous contexts of war and conflict, and in many emergency situations. While expressing the hope that human beings in all their dignity and integrity will remain at the centre of the Red Cross's humanitarian efforts, I particularly encourage young people to make a concrete commitment to this most worthy organisation.

  "I also take advantage of this moment", Benedict XVI concluded, "to ask for the release of all people held hostage in areas of conflict and, once again, for the release of Eugenio Vagni, Red Cross worker in the Philippines".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Jose Benedito Simao, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Assis (area 9,077, population 304,000, Catholics 258,600, priests 53, religious 67), Brazil.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced that at 6 p.m. on Sunday 28 June, in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father will preside at First Vespers of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, to mark the end of the Pauline Year.

  In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m. on the day of the Solemnity, Monday 29 June, Benedict XVI will preside at the concelebration of the Eucharist with new metropolitan archbishops upon whom he will impose the pallium during the course of the ceremony.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JUN 2009 (VIS) - In the Sala Regia of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday 30 June, a press conference will be held to illustrate recent restoration work on the palace's Pauline Chapel. The Holy Father is due to preside at the inauguration of the chapel on 4 July.

  Participating in the press conference will be Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums; Pier Carlo Cuscianna, director of Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Arnold Nesselrath, delegate of the director of the Vatican Museums for scientific departments and laboratories.
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Monday, June 22, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 8.30 a.m. today the Holy Father departed by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport for the military base of Amendola near Foggia in southern Italy. Due to poor weather he was unable to make the trip by helicopter as had been planned. On arrival he was taken by car to San Giovanni Rotondo where he was welcome by the political, civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

  He then travelled to the shrine of Our Lady of Grace where he was greeted by Fr. Mauro Johri, minister general of the Friars Minor Capuchins, and by other members of that order. After pausing in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament the Pope visited the cell of the convent where Padre Pio of Pietrelcina died, then descended to the crypt where he venerated the mortal remains of the saint.

  At 10.30 a.m. Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

  Speaking of St. Pio in his homily, the Pope explained how he "'prolonged' the work of Christ: announcing the Gospel, remitting sins and healing the sick in body and spirit".

  "The greatest 'storms' that threatened him were the attacks of the devil, from which he defended himself with 'the 'armour of God', with 'the shield of faith' and with 'the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God'. Remaining united to Jesus, his gaze was always fixed on the profundity of the drama of human life and for this he offered himself and his many sufferings, expending his efforts for the cure and relief of the sick, a privileged sign of God's mercy. ... Guiding souls and alleviating suffering: this is how we can summarise the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina".

  After then highlighting how St. Pio's legacy to his spiritual children was sanctity, the Holy Father explained how the saint's "main concern, his priestly and paternal solicitude" was "that people should return to God, that they should experience His mercy and, renewed within, rediscover the beauty and joy of being Christian, of living in communion with Jesus, of belonging to His Church and practising the Gospel".

  "In the first place came prayer. ... His days were a living Rosary, a continuous meditation upon, and assimilation of, the mysteries of Christ, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary. This explains the unique simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and of concrete human qualities. And the culmination of everything came in the celebration of Mass. ... From prayer, as from an endless font, arose charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, ever attentive to the real situations in which individuals and families lived. Towards the sick and suffering he nourished the predilection of the Heart of Christ, and it was from here that the idea for a great social project dedicated to the 'relief of suffering' was born and took shape. We cannot adequately interpret or understand this institution if we separate it from the source that inspired it: evangelical charity animated ... by prayer".

  Yet "the risks of activism and secularisation are ever present", warned Benedict XVI. "Many of you, religious and lay people, are so absorbed by your many obligations in serving pilgrims or the sick in hospital, that you run the risk of neglecting what is truly important: listening to Christ and accomplishing the will of God. When you realise that you are close to running this risk look to Padre Pio, to his example, to his sufferings, and invoke his intercession that he may obtain from the Lord the light and strength you need to continue his mission, imbued with love for God and fraternal charity".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's Mass, celebrated in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus, and recalled St. Pio's own love for the Virgin Mary.

  "Love the Virgin and make her loved", said Pope Benedict. "This is what St. Pio would tell people, and more than the words themselves what counted was the exemplary witness of his own profound devotion to the heavenly Mother". The entire life and apostolate of St. Pio of Pietrelcina "took place under the maternal gaze of Mary and with the power of her intercession".

  In a special way the Holy Father then entrusted the Year for Priests - which was inaugurated last Friday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - to the intercession of the Virgin and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, expressing the hope that it be "a privileged occasion to turn the spotlight on the importance of the mission and saintliness of priests in the service of the Church and of humanity in the third millennium".

  Finally the Holy Father spoke of World Refugee Day, which was celebrated yesterday under the patronage of the United Nations. "Let us also pray today", he said, "for the difficult and sometime dramatic situation of refugees. ... Many are the people who seek refuge in other countries, fleeing from wars, persecution and natural disasters. Receiving them creates no small number of difficulties yet it is nonetheless incumbent upon us. May it be God's will that, with everyone's commitment, the causes of such a sad phenomenon may as far as possible be removed".


VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 4.45 p.m. today Benedict XVI met with patients and medical and administrative staff of the "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza", a hospital founded by Padre Pio in 1956 that currently has beds for one thousand patients.

  On the subject of sickness the Pope explained how, "by taking many forms and striking in different ways", it "raises disquieting issues: Why do we suffer? Can the experience of pain be considered as positive? Who can free us from suffering and death? These are existential questions which usually remain unanswered in human terms because suffering is an enigma which reason cannot fathom.

  "Suffering is part of the very mystery of the human person", the Holy Father added. "Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering, ... but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply ... because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, which ... is a constant source of suffering.

  "The only person who can eliminate the power of evil is God. Precisely because Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal to us the divine plan of our salvation, faith helps us penetrate the meaning of all that is human, hence also of suffering. There exists, then, an intimate bond between the Cross of Jesus - symbol of supreme pain and price of our true freedom - and our own suffering, which is transformed and made sublime when lived with an awareness of God's closeness and solidarity".

  The Holy Father went on: "Padre Pio was aware of this profound truth. On the first anniversary of the inauguration of this hospital, he said that 'those who suffer must experience God's love through a judicious acceptance of their own pain, through serene meditation upon their destiny in Him".

  "May the Lord help you to fulfil the project that Padre Pio began", the Pope concluded, "with everyone making a contribution: doctors and scientific researchers, healthcare workers and those who collaborate in the various offices, volunteers and benefactors, Capuchin Friars and other priests. Without forgetting the prayer groups which, alongside the 'Casa del Sollievo', are the outposts of this citadel of charity, greenhouses of faith, hotbeds of love".


VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today, in the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, the Holy Father met with priests, religious and young people who had come to San Giovanni Rotondo for his visit.

  Following a brief moment of prayer and adoration in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, Benedict XVI pronounced some words to those present. Addressing himself in particular to clergy, he recalled the recently-inaugurated Year for Priests dedicated to St. John Mary Vianney. If the holy Cure of Ars, "in tormented and difficult times, sought in every way to make his parishioners rediscover the meaning and beauty of sacramental penance", the Pope said, "then for the holy Friar of Gargano [St. Pio] the care of souls and the conversion of sinners was a yearning that consumed him until his death.

  "How many people changed their lives thanks to his patient priestly ministry!" he added. "How many long hours did he spend in the confessional! ... The Sacrament of Penance must be further enhanced. Priests must never resign themselves to seeing their confessionals deserted, nor limit themselves to noting the disaffection of the faithful for this extraordinary source of serenity and peace".

  Among the teachings that marked Padre Pio's life, the Pope highlighted "the value and necessity of prayer", which he described as "a fundamental point not only for the spirituality of priests but also for that of all Christians, and even more so for yours, dear religious, who have been chosen to follow Christ more closely by practising the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience".

  He went on: "At times we may feel a certain discouragement in the face of the weakening and even abandonment of the faith which we see in our secularised societies. It is certainly important to find new channels to communicate the evangelical truth to the men and women of our time, but since the essential content of Christian announcement always remains the same, it is necessary to return to its original source, to Jesus Christ, Who 'is the same yesterday and today and forever'".

  Finally Benedict XVI turned to address the many young people present. "I am aware of the problems that surround you ... and risk suffocating the enthusiasm that is typical of your youth", he said. "Among these I would like to make particular mention of the phenomenon of unemployment which dramatically affects many young people in southern Italy. Do not lose spirit!! Be young people of 'great heart'. ... The Church does not abandon you; do not abandon the Church! Your contribution is necessary in order to build living Christian communities and societies that are more just and open to hope".

  After the meeting, the Pope descended to the lower church where he made a private visit and inaugurated an exhibition of mosaics. He then travelled by car to the military base of Amendola where he boarded a plane for Rome. From Ciampino airport he then returned to the Vatican by helicopter where he arrived at 8.15 p.m.


VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. yesterday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Pope inaugurated the year for Priests, which has been called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney. Among those attending Vespers in the Vatican Basilica were large numbers of priests and seminarians from Rome.

  Before the celebration began, the Pope prayed in front of the relics of the holy "Cure of Ars", brought to Rome by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars.

  In his homily the Holy Father explained how "the Heart of Jesus expresses the essential core of Christianity: the fact that all the revolutionary novelty of the Gospel was revealed and given to us in Christ: that is, the Love that saves us and causes us, even now, to live in God's eternity".

  "His Divine Heart appeals to our hearts and invites us to emerge from our own selves, to abandon our human security and entrust ourselves to Him and, following His example, to make of ourselves an unreserved gift of love.

  "If it is true that Jesus' call to 'abide in His love' applies to all the baptised", Benedict XVI added, "then on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, day of the sanctification of the clergy, that call sounds out with even greater force for us as priests, and particularly this evening at the beginning of the Year for Priests".

  The mission of priests is "indispensable for the Church and for the world", said the Pope. It "requires complete faithfulness to Christ and constant union with Him. In other words, it requires us to tend constantly towards sanctity, like St. John Mary Vianney".

  "Allowing oneself to be completely conquered by Christ: this was the aim of St. Paul's entire life, to which we have been dedicating our attention during the Pauline Year that is now drawing to a close; this was also the goal of the entire ministry of the holy 'Cure of Ars', to whom we will particularly address ourselves during the Year for Priests. May this also be the main objective of each one of us".

  In order to be ministers of the Gospel "study is certainly useful, as is careful and permanent pastoral formation, but what is even more necessary is the 'science of love' which can be learned only 'heart to heart' with Christ. It is He, in fact, Who calls us to break the bread of His love in order to remit sins and guide the flock in His name. ... Only in this way will we be able to co-operate effectively in the mysterious 'plan of the Father' which consists in 'making Christ the heart of the world'. This plan is achieved in history as, little by little, Jesus becomes the Heart of human hearts, beginning with those called to be closest to him: that is, priests".

  "Even our shortcomings, our limitations and weaknesses must lead us back to the heart of Jesus", said Pope Benedict. "If it is true that sinners, by contemplating His Heart, must learn the necessary 'suffering of sins' that leads them back to the Father, this holds even truer for ministers in holy orders. In this context, how can we forget that nothing makes the Church, Body of Christ, suffer so much as this sins of her pastors, above all of those who become 'stealers of sheep', either by misleading them into a private doctrine or binding them with bonds of sin and death? Dear priests, the call to conversion and the recourse to Divine Mercy apply to us too. We too, with heartfelt humility, must ask the Heart of Jesus to preserve us from the terrible risk of harming the very people whom we are required to save".

  The Holy Father invited his audience to cultivate the same feelings for "the dignity of priests" as those felt by the "Cure of Ars", in order to "accomplish our mission with generosity and dedication, and to maintain an authentic 'fear of God' in our hearts: the fear that, by our negligence or sin, we deprive the souls entrusted to us from such goodness, or that we may - God forbid! - do damage to them.

  "The Church", the Pope added, concluding his homily, "needs holy priests, ministers who help the faithful experience the merciful love of the Lord and who are themselves convinced witnesses of that love".

  The ceremony concluded with adoration and Eucharistic blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration late yesterday evening:

  "On the subject of certain news items carried by press agencies concerning the cause of beatification of Pius XII, the director of the Holy See Press Office would like to reiterate that the signing of decrees concerning causes of beatification is the exclusive prerogative of the Pope, who must be left completely free in his evaluations and decisions.

  "If the Pope believes that study and reflection upon the cause of Pius XII are to be further prolonged, his position must be respected without unjustified and inappropriate interventions".


VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received members of the council of the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation, led by De Gasperi's daughter Maria Romana, and by Senator Giulio Andreotti who was a close collaborator of the Italian statesman for many years.

  In his remarks the Pope described Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954) as having been "formed in the school of the Gospel, ... capable of translating the faith he professed into concrete and coherent acts. ... Spirituality and politics were so well integrated in him that, if we wish to understand fully this respected man of government, we must not limit ourselves to considering the political results he achieved but also bear in mind his delicate religious sensibility and the solid faith which constantly animated his thoughts and actions".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how De Gasperi dedicated "much time to prayer and to his relationship with God, when possible beginning each day by attending Mass. Indeed, the most chaotic and dramatic moments marked the pinnacles of his spirituality".

  The Pope also highlighted De Gasperi's "unquestionable faithfulness to human and Christian vales, and the serene moral conscience that guided him in his political decisions. ... Of course, at times there were difficulties, perhaps even misunderstandings, with the ecclesiastical world, but De Gasperi never wavered in his adherence to the Church, ... which was complete and sincere".

  "Docile and obedient to the Church, he remained independent and responsible in his political choices, without using the Church for political aims and without making compromises with his own upright conscience".

  The Holy Father concluded by asking God "that the memory of De Gasperi's experience of government and his Christian witness be an encouragement and stimulus for the people who govern Italy and other countries today, especially for those who draw inspiration from the Gospel".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Gilberto Gomez Gonzalez, auxiliary of Abancay, Peru, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,950, population 344,510, Catholics 329,110, priests 52, religious 133). He succeeds Bishop Isidro Sala Ribera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Alex Thomas Kaliyanil S.V.D. regional superior of the Society of the Divine Word in Zimbabwe, as archbishop of Bulawayo (area 66,956, population 1,858,000, Catholics 115,793, priests 87, permanent deacons 21, religious 203), Zimbabwe. The archbishop-elect was born in Vallamchira, India in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue: Bishop Augustine Shao C.S.Sp. of Zanzibar, Tanzania; Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly of Liverpool, England, and Bishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Bandung, Indonesia.

 - Appointed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the diocese of Pecs, Hungary, due to take place on 23 August.

 - Appointed Msgr. Damiano Marzotto Caotorta, bureau chief of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as under secretary of the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Gilberto Gomez Gonzalez, auxiliary of Abancay, Peru, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,950, population 344,510, Catholics 329,110, priests 52, religious 133). He succeeds Bishop Isidro Sala Ribera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Alex Thomas Kaliyanil S.V.D. regional superior of the Society of the Divine Word in Zimbabwe, as archbishop of Bulawayo (area 66,956, population 1,858,000, Catholics 115,793, priests 87, permanent deacons 21, religious 203), Zimbabwe. The archbishop-elect was born in Vallamchira, India in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988.

- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue: Bishop Augustine Shao C.S.Sp. of Zanzibar, Tanzania; Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly of Liverpool, England, and Bishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Bandung, Indonesia.

- Appointed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the diocese of Pecs, Hungary, due to take place on 23 August.

- Appointed Msgr. Damiano Marzotto Caotorta, bureau chief of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as under secretary of the same congregation.
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Friday, June 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican this morning, Benedict XVI received His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, the new Catholic patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, accompanied by various members of the Synod of that Church.

  "Divine Providence", said the Pope in his address, "has made us ministers of Christ and shepherds of His one flock. ... Christ Himself, our Lord, appointed the Apostle Peter as the 'rock' upon which He founded the spiritual edifice of the Church, calling upon His disciples to remain in full unity with Peter, under his sure guidance and that of his Successors".

  "Over the course of your millenarian history", he continued, "your communion with the Bishop of Rome has always been accompanied by faithfulness to the spiritual tradition of the Christian East. These are complementary aspects of a single heritage of the faith which your venerable Church professes".

  The Pontiff then recalled how, in order to emphasise "the Eucharistic roots" of this communion, he had granted "ecclesiastica communio" to the patriarch when he was elected head of the Synod. Addressing the patriarch directly, he added: "With a public sign - yesterday's Eucharistic celebration in the basilica of St. Mary Major - you most appropriately demonstrated the close ties binding you to the bishop of Rome and the Universal Church".

  Pope Benedict went on: "In effect, the Eucharist fuses our different traditions in the unity of the one Spirit, making them a source of wealth for all God's people. May the celebration of the Eucharist, source and summit of ecclesiastical life, keep you anchored in the ancient Syriac tradition which can claim to possess the language the Lord Jesus spoke, and at the same time open your horizons to ecclesial universality. ... The Eucharist is the Bread of Life that nourishes our communities and makes them grow in unity and charity. In the Eucharist, Sacrament of unity and community, may you find the strength to overcome the difficulties your Church has faced over recent years, in order to rediscover the paths of forgiveness, reconciliation and communion".

  Finally the Holy Father expressed his satisfaction at the return to full activity of the Synod of this Church and encouraged "efforts being made to favour unity, understanding and forgiveness, which must always be considered as priorities for the edification of the Church of God".

  "I pray continuously, among other things, for peace in the Middle East, especially for Christians living in the blessed land of Iraq, whose sufferings I offer every day to God during the Eucharistic sacrifice".


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Jose de la Trinidad Valera Angulo of La Guaira.

    - Bishop William Enrique Delgado Silva of Cabimas.

    - Bishop Jose Hernan Sanchez Porras, military ordinary.

 - Geronimo Narvaez Torres, ambassador of Paraguay, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Filippo Iannone O. Carm., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Naples, Italy, as bishop of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo (area 1,426, population 152,700, Catholics 150,230, priests 96, permanent deacons 18, religious 176), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Luca Brandolini C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Pierre-Marie Gaschy C.S.Sp., superior of the community of Fameck in the diocese of Metz, France, as apostolic vicar of Iles Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (area 245,000, population 6,125, Catholics 6,076, priests 2, religious 7), France. The bishop-elect was born in Colmar, France in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1969. He succeeds Bishop Lucien Fischer C.S.Sp., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic vicariate the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Joseph Pibul Visitnondachai of the clergy of Bangkok, Thailand, secretary general for social pastoral ministries of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, as bishop of Nakhon Sawan (area 93,547, population 8,327,053, Catholics 16,000, priests 34, religious 53), Thailand. The bishop-elect was born in Bang Buathong, Thailand in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1974.

- Appointed Fr. Stephen Tjephe of the clergy of Loikaw, Myanmar, pastor of the church of St. Matthew at Daugneku, as auxiliary of Loikaw (area 11,670, population 309,820, Catholics 75,485, priests 79, religious 195). The bishop-elect was born in Danoku, Myanmar in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - Appointed Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, bureau chief of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as under secretary of the same congregation.

 - Appointed as substitute promoters of justice of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Fr. Nikolaus Schoch O.F.M., substitute defender of the bond at the same tribunal, and Fr. Markus Graulich S.D.B., vice dean and professor of the faculty of canon law of Rome's Pontifical Salesian University.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience George Abela, president of Malta. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the cordial discussions, while reaffirming the firm ties of friendship between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta, attention turned to certain questions concerning Maltese society, in which the Catholic Church continues to play an important role. Consideration was also given to the international situation, with particular reference to the Middle East and Africa, and to the positive contribution Malta can make to resolving the problems there".
OP/PRESIDENT MALTA/BERTONE                VIS 20090618 (140)


VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Pope has sent a Letter to the priests of the world for the occasion of the Year for Priests, which has been called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney.

  Tomorrow, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and day of prayer for the sanctification of the clergy, Benedict XVI will inaugurate this Jubilee Year for Priests during Vespers in the Vatican Basilica.

  The Letter has been published in Italian, French, Spanish, English, German, Polish and Portuguese. The complete text of the English language version is given below:

  Dear Brother Priests,

  On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 - a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy - I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus", the saintly Cure of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ's words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as "friends of Christ", whom He has called by name, chosen and sent?

  I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of St. John Mary also makes us think of Christ's pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

  There are also, sad to say, situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers. Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection. What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgement of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God's gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides. Here the teaching and example of St. John Mary Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all. The Cure of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: "A good shepherd, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy". He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: "O, how great is the priest! ... If he realised what he is, he would die. ... God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host". Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the Sacraments, he would say: "Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. ... After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is". These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the Sacrament of the Priesthood. He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: "Were we to fully realise what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love. ... Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth. ... What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods. ... Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshipping the beasts there. ... The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you".

  He arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: "There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there". As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody Christ's presence and to bear witness to His saving mercy: "[Lord,] grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!". With this prayer he entered upon his mission. The Cure devoted himself completely to his parish's conversion, setting before all else the Christian education of the people in his care. Dear brother priests, let us ask the Lord Jesus for the grace to learn for ourselves something of the pastoral plan of St. John Mary Vianney! The first thing we need to learn is the complete identification of the man with his ministry. In Jesus, person and mission tend to coincide: all Christ's saving activity was, and is, an expression of His "filial consciousness" which from all eternity stands before the Father in an attitude of loving submission to His will. In a humble yet genuine way, every priest must aim for a similar identification. Certainly this is not to forget that the efficacy of the ministry is independent of the holiness of the minister; but neither can we overlook the extraordinary fruitfulness of the encounter between the ministry's objective holiness and the subjective holiness of the minister. The Cure of Ars immediately set about this patient and humble task of harmonising his life as a minister with the holiness of the ministry he had received, by deciding to "live", physically, in his parish church: As his first biographer tells us: "Upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed".

  The pious excess of his devout biographer should not blind us to the fact that the Cure also knew how to "live" actively within the entire territory of his parish: he regularly visited the sick and families, organised popular missions and patronal feasts, collected and managed funds for his charitable and missionary works, embellished and furnished his parish church, cared for the orphans and teachers of the "Providence" (an institute he founded); provided for the education of children; founded confraternities and enlisted lay persons to work at his side.

  His example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of co-operation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, "that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, 'loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour'". Here we ought to recall the Vatican Council II's hearty encouragement to priests "to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church's mission. ... They should be willing to listen to lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times".

  St. John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. "One need not say much to pray well" - the Cure explained to them - "We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to Him, let us rejoice in His sacred presence. That is the best prayer". And he would urge them: "Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from Him in order to live with Him. ... "Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!". This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that "it was not possible to find a finer example of worship. ... He gazed upon the Host with immense love". "All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass" - he would say - "since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God". He was convinced that the fervour of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass: "The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!". He was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice: "What a good thing it is for a priest each morning to offer himself to God in sacrifice!"

  This deep personal identification with the Sacrifice of the Cross led him - by a sole inward movement - from the altar to the confessional. Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this Sacrament. In France, at the time of the Cure of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion. Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence. He thus created a "virtuous" circle. By spending long hours in church before the tabernacle, he inspired the faithful to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness. Later, the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him in the confessional for up to sixteen hours a day. It was said that Ars had become "a great hospital of souls". His first biographer relates that "the grace he obtained [for the conversion of sinners] was so powerful that it would pursue them, not leaving them a moment of peace!". The saintly Cure reflected something of the same idea when he said: "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God Himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to Him". "This good Saviour is so filled with love that He seeks us everywhere".

  We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: "I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite". From St. John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the Sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the "dialogue of salvation" which it entails. The Cure of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the "flood of divine mercy" which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Cure would unveil the mystery of God's love in these beautiful and touching words: "The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, He already knows that you will sin again, yet He still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: He even forces Himself to forget the future, so that He can grant us His forgiveness!". But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how "abominable" this attitude was: "I weep because you don't weep", he would say. "If only the Lord were not so good! But He is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!". He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor. To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God's love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with Him and dwelling in His presence: "Everything in God's sight, everything with God, everything to please God. ... How beautiful it is!". And he taught them to pray: "My God, grant me the grace to love You as much as I possibly can".

  In his time the Cure of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love. Thanks to the Word and the Sacraments of Jesus, John Mary Vianney built up his flock, although he often trembled from a conviction of his personal inadequacy, and desired more than once to withdraw from the responsibilities of the parish ministry out of a sense of his unworthiness. Nonetheless, with exemplary obedience he never abandoned his post, consumed as he was by apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. He sought to remain completely faithful to his own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism: "The great misfortune for us parish priests - he lamented - is that our souls grow tepid"; meaning by this that a pastor can grow dangerously inured to the state of sin or of indifference in which so many of his flock are living. He himself kept a tight rein on his body, with vigils and fasts, lest it rebel against his priestly soul. Nor did he avoid self-mortification for the good of the souls in his care and as a help to expiating the many sins he heard in confession. To a priestly confrere he explained: "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place". Aside from the actual penances which the Cure of Ars practised, the core of his teaching remains valid for each of us: souls have been won at the price of Jesus' own blood, and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the "precious cost" of redemption.

  In today's world, as in the troubled times of the Cure of Ars, the lives and activity of priests need to be distinguished by a forceful witness to the Gospel. As Pope Paul VI rightly noted, "modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses". Lest we experience existential emptiness and the effectiveness of our ministry be compromised, we need to ask ourselves ever anew: "Are we truly pervaded by the Word of God? Is that Word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that Word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this Word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking?". Just as Jesus called the Twelve to be with Him, and only later sent them forth to preach, so too in our days priests are called to assimilate that "new style of life" which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles.

  It was complete commitment to this "new style of life" which marked the priestly ministry of the Cure of Ars. Pope John XXIII, in his Encyclical Letter "Sacerdotii nostri primordia", published in 1959 on the first centenary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, presented his asceticism with special reference to the "three evangelical counsels" which the Pope considered necessary also for priests: "even though priests are not bound to embrace these evangelical counsels by virtue of the clerical state, these counsels nonetheless offer them, as they do all the faithful, the surest road to the desired goal of Christian perfection". The Cure of Ars lived the "evangelical counsels" in a way suited to his priestly state. His poverty was not the poverty of a religious or a monk, but that proper to a priest: while managing much money (since well-to-do pilgrims naturally took an interest in his charitable works), he realised that everything had been donated to his church, his poor, his orphans, the girls of his "Providence", his families of modest means. Consequently, he "was rich in giving to others and very poor for himself". As he would explain: "My secret is simple: give everything away; hold nothing back". When he lacked money, he would say amiably to the poor who knocked at his door: "Today I'm poor just like you, I'm one of you". At the end of his life, he could say with absolute tranquillity: "I no longer have anything. The good Lord can call me whenever he wants!". His chastity, too, was that demanded of a priest for his ministry. It could be said that it was a chastity suited to one who must daily touch the Eucharist, who contemplates it blissfully and with that same bliss offers it to his flock. It was said of him that "he radiated chastity"; the faithful would see this when he turned and gazed at the tabernacle with loving eyes". Finally, Saint John Mary Vianney's obedience found full embodiment in his conscientious fidelity to the daily demands of his ministry. We know how he was tormented by the thought of his inadequacy for parish ministry and by a desire to flee "in order to bewail his poor life, in solitude". Only obedience and a thirst for souls convinced him to remain at his post. As he explained to himself and his flock: "There are no two good ways of serving God. There is only one: serve him as he desires to be served". He considered this the golden rule for a life of obedience: "Do only what can be offered to the good Lord".

  In this context of a spirituality nourished by the practice of the evangelical counsels, I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. "In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted. ... He breathes where He wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of, ... but he also shows us that He works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body". In this regard, the statement of the Decree "Presbyterorum Ordinis" continues to be timely: "While testing the spirits to discover if they be of God, priests must discover with faith, recognise with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind". These gifts, which awaken in many people the desire for a deeper spiritual life, can benefit not only the lay faithful but the clergy as well. The communion between ordained and charismatic ministries can provide "a helpful impulse to a renewed commitment by the Church in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world". I would also like to add, echoing the Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis" of Pope John Paul II, that the ordained ministry has a radical "communitarian form" and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their bishop. This communion between priests and their bishop, grounded in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and made manifest in Eucharistic concelebration, needs to be translated into various concrete expressions of an effective and affective priestly fraternity. Only thus will priests be able to live fully the gift of celibacy and build thriving Christian communities in which the miracles which accompanied the first preaching of the Gospel can be repeated.

  The Pauline Year now coming to its close invites us also to look to the Apostle of the Gentiles, who represents a splendid example of a priest entirely devoted to his ministry. "The love of Christ urges us on" - he wrote - "because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died". And he adds: "He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him Who died and was raised for them". Could a finer programme be proposed to any priest resolved to advance along the path of Christian perfection?

  Dear brother priests, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney (1859) follows upon the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes (1858). In 1959 Blessed Pope John XXIII noted that "shortly before the Cure of Ars completed his long and admirable life, the Immaculate Virgin appeared in another part of France to an innocent and humble girl, and entrusted to her a message of prayer and penance which continues, even a century later, to yield immense spiritual fruits. The life of this holy priest whose centenary we are commemorating in a real way anticipated the great supernatural truths taught to the seer of Massabielle. He was greatly devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin; in 1836 he had dedicated his parish church to Our Lady Conceived without Sin and he greeted the dogmatic definition of this truth in 1854 with deep faith and great joy". The Cure would always remind his faithful that "after giving us all he could, Jesus Christ wishes in addition to bequeath us His most precious possession, His Blessed Mother".

  To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Cure of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to His Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: "In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world". Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!
BXVI-LETTER/YEAR FOR PRIESTS/...                VIS 20090618 (4360)


VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Jose Sotero Valero Ruz of Guanare.

    - Bishop Ramon Jose Aponte Fernandez of Valle de la Pascua.

    - Bishop Jorge Anibal Quintero Chacon of Margarita.

    - Bishop Ramon Jose Viloria Pinzon of Puerto Cabello.

 - His Holiness Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20090618 (80)


VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Maribor, Slovenia, presented by Bishop Jozef Smej, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Juan Manuel Mancilla Sanchez of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, as bishop of Texcoco (area 1,139, population 1,578,718, Catholics 1,355,000, priests 144, permanent deacons 17, religious 317), Mexico.

 - Appointed Bishop Christopher Prowse, auxiliary of Melbourne, Australia, as bishop of Sale (area 44,441, population 373,000, Catholics 92,700, priests 42, permanent deacons 5, religious 44), Australia.

 - Appointed Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, as apostolic nuncio to Belgium.
RE:NER:NN/.../...                            VIS 20090618 (120)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office yesterday published the following communique concerning the meeting of the Pope and a number of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia with a group of Austrian bishops. The gathering was held in the Vatican on 15 and 16 June.

  "The meeting, characterised by lively 'collegial affection', served to examine, in a fraternal exchange of ideas and with a constructive spirit, certain questions concerning the situation of the diocese of Linz and of the Church in Austria, proposing solutions to current problems.

  "The Holy Father highlighted the urgent importance of strengthening faith and of maintaining integral faithfulness to Vatican Council II and to the Church's post-conciliar Magisterium, as well as the need to renew catechesis in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  "Attention also turned to doctrinal and pastoral questions and to the situation of the clergy, the laity, the major seminaries and the theological faculties in Linz and in other dioceses of Austria.

  "The Austrian bishops thanked the Holy Father for his paternal solicitude and for this meeting, a sign of his closeness to the Church in Austria, giving assurances of their full communion and their affection. The Austrian bishops also thanked the Roman Curia for its fruitful collaboration and openness".

  The meeting was attended by the following Austrian prelates: Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference; Archbishop Alois Kothgasser S.D.B. of Salzburg; Bishop Egon Kapellari of Graz-Seckau and vice president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Ludwig Schwarz S.D.B. of Linz.

  Also present were Archbishop Peter Stephan Zurbriggen, apostolic nuncio to Austria, and the following heads of dicasteries: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
OP/MEETING AUSTRIAN BISHOPS/...                VIS 20090617 (350)

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