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Monday, October 31, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received a group of prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

Benedict XVI began his address by referring to the visit he had made to Luanda in March 2009 during which, he said, "I had the chance to meet you and celebrate Jesus Christ in the midst of a people who never cease to seek, love and serve Him, generously and joyfully".

The Holy Father also made mention of the fact that he is due to return to Africa in November, when he will travel to Benin to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Quoting from the final message of that synodal meeting, he said: "As Church, the first and most specific contribution we must make to the people of Africa is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because announcing Christ is the primary and most important factor of development. Development arises from transformation of heart and transformation of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel".

The Pope then turned his attention to three of the most important difficulties currently facing Angolan Christians, "who undergo the pressure of the customs of the societies in which they live. Yet, by the grace of Baptism, they are called to renounce harmful practices, and to swim against the tide guided by the spirit of the Beatitudes".

The first problem the Pope identified was that of concubinage, "which goes against God's plan for procreation and the human family. The low number of Catholic marriages in your communities is the sign of a grave burden on families which, we well know, are vitally important for the stability of society. ... Help married couples to acquire the human and spiritual maturity they need to accept their mission as Christian spouses and parents with responsibility, reminding them that their spousal love must be unique and indissoluble like the bond between Christ and His Church".

Another difficulty lies in the fact that "the hearts of the baptised are torn between Christianity and traditional African religions. Faced with life's problems, they do not hesitate to turn to practices that are incompatible with adherence to Christ. One particularly abominable consequence is the marginalisation and even murder of children and elderly people, condemned by the false diktats of witchcraft. Dear bishops, continue to raise your voice in support of the victims, in the certainty that human life is sacred at all moments and in all situations". Ecclesial communities must strive, together with governments and civil society, to "find a way that leads to the definitive eradication" of this scourge.

The third problem facing Angolan Christians lies in "the remnants of ethnic tribalism, evident in the attitude of communities that tend to close in on themselves, rejecting people from other parts of the country. ... In the Church, the new family of all who believe in Christ, there is no space for division of any kind", the Pope said. "Men and women of different tribes, languages and nations gather round the altar where, sharing the one Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, they become true brothers and sisters. This bond of fraternity is stronger than that our earthly families or tribes".

In conclusion, the Pope reiterated a phrase he had pronounced during his 2009 visit to Luanda: "God has enabled human beings to fly, over and above their natural tendencies, on the wings of reason and faith. If you let these wings bear you aloft, you will easily recognise your neighbour as a brother or sister, born with the same fundamental human rights".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope commented on today's reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, in which the Apostle invites us to accept the Gospel "not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word". By doing so "we can faithfully accept the admonitions Jesus addresses to our conscience, and behave accordingly. In today's reading He reproaches the scribes and Pharisees, who had the role of leaders in the community, because their behaviour was in open contrast with the teachings they rigorously sought to impose upon others. ... Good doctrine must be welcomed, but it risks being invalidated by incoherent behaviour. ... Jesus' approach is the exact opposite: He is the first to practise the commandment of love, which He teaches to everyone. And His is but a light burden because He helps us to carry it with Him.

"Referring to leaders who oppress the freedom of others in the name of their own authority, St. Bonaventure identified the true leader, saying that 'no one can teach or even practise, nor arrive at knowledge of the truth unless the Son of God is present'. ... We are, then, called to follow the Son of God, the Word incarnate, Who expressed the truth of His teachings through His own faithfulness to the will of the Father, through His gift of self. ... Jesus also firmly condemned vanity, noting that those who act 'to be seen by others' place themselves at the mercy of human approval, undermining the values that support the authenticity of the individual".

The Holy Father called for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, particularly for "those in the Christian community who are called to the ministry of teaching, that through their actions they may always bear witness to the truth they transmit in words".

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father expressed his closeness "to the people of Thailand who have suffered serious floods, and for the people of the Italian regions of Liguria and Tuscany, which have also been badly affected by torrential rain. I give them assurances of my prayers".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Almir Franco de Sa Barbuda, the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See. The Pope began his remarks to the diplomat by expressing his gratitude for the readiness of the Brazilian authorities to host the next World Youth Day, due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

He then went on to consider the long history of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Brazil, which were established shortly after the country's independence, also highlighting the fruitful influence of the Catholic Church which dates back to the first Mass celebrated there on 26 April 1500. Proof of this is to be found, the Holy Father said, in "the many cities named after saints, and the numerous religious monuments, some of which symbolise the country throughout the world, such as the statue of the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro".

One important chapter of this "shared fertile history" was the agreement the Holy See and the Brazilian government signed in 2008, which "officially and juridically sealed the independence and collaboration of the two parties". In this context, the Pope also expressed the hope that the State would recognise that "healthy secularism must not consider religion as a mere individual sentiment, relegated to the private sphere, but as a reality which, being organised into visible structures, requires public recognition of its presence".

"It is therefore up to the State to ensure that all religious confessions enjoy freedom of worship, and the right to practice their cultural, educational and charitable activities, when these do not contrast with morality or public order", he said. "The Church does not limit her own contribution to concrete humanitarian or educational assistance; rather, she pursues above all the ethical development of society. Encouraged by the numerous expressions of openness to transcendence, she seeks to form consciences and to show solidarity".

Benedict XVI identified a number of fields of mutual cooperation, including that of education in which the Church has "many institutions which enjoy prestigious recognition in society. The role of education cannot, in fact, be reduced to the mere transmission of knowledge and abilities for professional formation", he explained. "Rather it must comprehend all facets of the individual, from social factors to the longing for transcendence. We must, therefore, reiterate that the teaching of a particular religion in State schools, ... far from indicating that the State assumes or imposes a certain religious belief, is recognition of the fact that religion is an important value in the formation of the individual. ... Not only does this not prejudice the secularism of the State, it guarantees parents' rights to chose the education of their children, thus helping to promote the common good".

Finally, on the subject of social justice, the Pope concluded by saying that "the Brazilian government knows that it can rely on the Church as a partner in all initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger and want, ... and helping those most in need to escape poverty ... and marginalisation".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for November is: "That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church".

His mission intention is: "That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops".


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Ubaldo Ramon Santana Sequera F.M.I. of Maracaibo, Venezuela, president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, accompanied by Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, first vice president; Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate Salas, auxiliary of Caracas, secretary general, and Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, president "ad honorem".

- Ten prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Almeida Kanda of Ndalatando.

- Archbishop Jose Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo.

- Bishop Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp. of Sumbe.

- Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of Uije, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Jose Francisco Moreira dos Santos O.F.M. Cap.

- Bishop Joaquim Ferreira Lopes O.F.M. Cap. of Viana.

- Bishop Mario Lukunde of Menongwe.

- Bishop Dionisio Hisiilenapo of Namibe.

- Bishop Fernando Guimarães Kevanu of Ondjiva.

- Bishop Manuel Antonio Mendes dos Santos C.M.F. of Sao Tome and Principe.

On Saturday 29 October he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church.

- Nine prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso P.S.D.P. of Benguela, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Oscar Lino Lopes Fernandes Braga.

- Bishop Jose Nambi of Kwito-Bie.

- Bishop Jesus Tirso Blanco S.D.B. of Lwena.

- Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda.

- Bishop Antonio Francisco Jaca S.V.D. of Caxito.

- Msgr. Colm Reidy, diocesan administrator of Dundo.

- Bishop Luis Maria Perez de Onraita Aguirre of Malanje.

- Bishop Vicente Carlos Kiaziku, O.F.M. Cap. of Mbanza Congo.

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Kalisz, Poland, presented by Bishop Teofil Wilski, upon having reached the age limit.

On Saturday 29 October it was made public that he:

- Appointed Bishop Wiktor Pawel Skworc of Tarnow, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Katowice (area 2,400, population 1,498,123, Catholics 1,454,328, priests 1,085, religious 1,093), Poland. He succeeds Archbishop Damian Zimon, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Sebastain Tudu of the clergy of Dinajpur, Bangladesh, vice rector of the major seminary of the Holy Spirit in Dhaka and diocesan director of the Pontifical Missionary Works, as bishop of Dinajpur (area 17,500, population 16,529,090, Catholics 46,578, priests 56, religious 148). The bishop-elect was born in Changura, Bangladesh in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1999. He has worked as parochial vicar in a number of parishes in Bangladesh and attained a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University.

- Erected the new diocese of Kabwe (area 63,574, population 1,078,334, Catholics 138,810, priests 43, religious 95) Zambia, with territory taken from the diocese of Mpika and the archdiocese of Lusaka, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Lusaka. He appointed Fr. Clement Mulenga S.D.B, director of the office for the pastoral care of young people in the archdiocese of Lusaka, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Dimashi, in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied at the Pontifical Salesian University and has worked in Salesian communities in Zambia and Tanzania.

- Appointed Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, as apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Guyana, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles.
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Friday, October 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday, the Holy Father and the heads of delegation left the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, and walked in procession across the square in front of the building. They then boarded minibuses which took them to Piazza San Francesco for the closing event of the Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world.

The ceremony began with some remarks from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. He affirmed that the hope for peace had been revived by the Assisi meeting and exhorted everyone to be witnesses and messengers of peace. The other participants, speaking in turn, then solemnly renewed their own commitment to peace: His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, was followed by representatives of the World Lutheran Council, Sikhism, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Baptist World Alliance, Islam, the Syro-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Taoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and non-believers.

Benedict XVI then pronounced the words: "Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth Justice and Peace, Forgiveness and Life, Love".

Following a few moments of silence, a group of young people gave lighted lamps to the heads of delegation and to others present in the square; the flames of the lamps flickering in the wind were intended to represent peace, which has to be protected and conserved. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, then invited participants to exchange a sign of peace in order to seal the commitment they had just pronounced.

Following the exchange of the sign of peace the Pope concluded by thanking the organisers of the Assisi meeting. He also made specific mention of "the many young people who have made the pilgrimage to Santa Maria degli Angeli on foot, proof of the fact that many members of the new generations are committed to overcoming violence and discord, and to promoting justice and peace".

"Today's event is an image of how the spiritual dimension is a key element in the building of peace. Through this unique pilgrimage we have been able to engage in fraternal dialogue, to deepen our friendship, and to come together in silence and prayer. After renewing our commitment to peace and exchanging with one another a sign of peace, we feel even more profoundly involved, together with all the men and women from the communities that we represent, in our common human journey. We are not being separated; we will continue to meet, we will continue to be united in this journey, in dialogue, in the daily building of peace and in our commitment to a better world, a world in which every man and woman, and every people, can live in accordance with their own legitimate aspirations. From my heart I thank all of you here present for having accepted my invitation to come to Assisi as pilgrims of truth and peace and I greet each one of you in St. Francis' own words: May the Lord grant you peace.

During the closing hymn the Pope and the delegations descended from the podium and entered the lower basilica of St. Francis where they remained in silence over the saint's tomb. The Pontiff then greeted the Franciscan community and, accompanied by the heads of delegation, travelled by minibus to the railway station of Assisi where he boarded a train for his return to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received representatives of various religions, and of non-believers, who yesterday participated in the Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, celebrated in the Italian town of Assisi under the theme: "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace".

Addressing the group in English he thanked them for having taken part in yesterday's event. "In a certain sense", he said, "this gathering is representative of the billions of men and women throughout our world who are actively engaged in promoting justice and peace. It is also a sign of the friendship and fraternity which has flourished as the fruit of the efforts of so many pioneers in this kind of dialogue. May this friendship continue to grow among all the followers of the world's religions and with men and women of good will everywhere".

"Looking back, we can appreciate the foresight of the late Pope John Paul II in convening the first Assisi meeting. ... Meetings of this sort are necessarily exceptional and infrequent, yet they are a vivid expression of the fact that every day, throughout our world, people of different religious traditions live and work together in harmony. It is surely significant for the cause of peace that so many men and women, inspired by their deepest convictions, are committed to working for the good of the human family.

"In this way", Benedict XVI added, "I am sure that yesterday's meeting has given us a sense of how genuine is our desire to contribute to the good of all our fellow human beings and how much we have to share with one another.

"As we go our separate ways, let us draw strength from this experience and, wherever we may be, let us continue refreshed on the journey that leads to truth, the pilgrimage that leads to peace. I thank all of you from my heart".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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, October 27, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting for peace in the Italian town of Assisi, called by Blessed John Paul II. For the occasion, Benedict XVI has made a pilgrimage to the city of St. Francis, accompanied by representatives of other religions and by non-believers, for a Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world under the theme: "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace".

The Pontiff and the members of the various delegations left the Vatican by train at 8 a.m. today, reaching Assisi at 9.45 a.m. where they were greeted by the civil and religious authorities in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. As the ceremony unfolded inside the basilica, the large numbers of faithful present were able to follow events on giant screens set up in the square outside.

Following a greeting from Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, a video was screened in commemoration of the 1986 meeting. Then, one after the other, the representatives of the various religions rose to speak: His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, Primate of the Anglican Communion; Archbishop Norvan Zakarian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of France; Rev. Olav Fyske Tveit, secretary general of the World Council of Churches; Rabbi David Rosen, representative of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; Wande Abimbola, spokesperson for the Yoruba faith; Acharya Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, representative for Hinduism; Ja-Seung, president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Kyai Haji Hasyom Muzadi, secretary general of the International Conference of Islamic Schools, and Julia Kristeva, representing non-believers.

The Holy Father then rose to make his address, extracts of which are given below:

"Twenty-five years have passed since Blessed Pope John Paul II first invited representatives of the world's religions to Assisi to pray for peace. What has happened in the meantime? What is the state of play with regard to peace today?

"At that time the great threat to world peace came from the division of the earth into two mutually opposed blocs. A conspicuous symbol of this division was the Berlin Wall. ... In 1989, three years after Assisi, the wall came down, without bloodshed. ... In addition to economic and political factors, the deepest reason for the event is a spiritual one: behind material might there were no longer any spiritual convictions. ... For this victory of freedom, which was also, above all, a victory of peace, we give thanks. What is more, this was not merely, nor even primarily, about the freedom to believe, although it did include this. To that extent we may in some way link all this to our prayer for peace.

"But what happened next? Unfortunately, we cannot say that freedom and peace have characterised the situation ever since. ... Violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world. Freedom is a great good. But the world of freedom has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence. Discord has taken on new and frightening guises, and the struggle for freedom must engage us all in a new way".

"In broad strokes, we may distinguish two types of the new forms of violence, which are the very antithesis of each other in terms of their motivation and manifest a number of differences in detail. Firstly there is terrorism, for which in place of a great war there are targeted attacks intended to strike the opponent destructively at key points, with no regard for the lives of innocent human beings, who are cruelly killed or wounded in the process. In the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty. Everything that had been commonly recognised and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled. We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty. ... In this case, religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence".

"The fact that, in the case we are considering here, religion really does motivate violence should be profoundly disturbing to us as religious persons. In a way that is more subtle but no less cruel, we also see religion as the cause of violence when force is used by the defenders of one religion against others. The religious delegates who were assembled in Assisi in 1986 wanted to say, and we now repeat it emphatically and firmly: this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction".

"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature. The God in whom we Christians believe is the Creator and Father of all, and from Him all people are brothers and sisters and form one single family. For us the Cross of Christ is the sign of the God Who put 'suffering-with' (compassion) and 'loving-with' in place of force. ... It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the Christian faith to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God's peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.

"If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God's absence, His denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion - as we said earlier - see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognises any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God's absence.

"Yet I do not intend to speak further here about State-imposed atheism, but rather about the decline of man, which is accompanied by a change in the spiritual climate that occurs imperceptibly and hence is all the more dangerous. The worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage. The desire for happiness degenerates, for example, into an unbridled, inhuman craving, such as appears in the different forms of drug dependency. ... Force comes to be taken for granted and in parts of the world it threatens to destroy our young people. Because force is taken for granted, peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum".

"In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: 'There is no God'. They suffer from His absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards Him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are 'pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace'. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty. ... But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if He belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others.

"These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, Whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be 'pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace'".

Following the meeting in the basilica, Benedict XVI and the delegations made their way to the convent of Porziuncola. A frugal lunch was followed by a period of silence for individual refection and prayer before the participants moved on to the Basilica of St. Francis for the concluding ceremonies of the Day.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2011 (VIS) - His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, with the consent of the Permanent Synod meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, on 10 September, and having informed the Apostolic See, has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, presented by Bishop Julian Voronovsky M.S.U. in accordance with canon 210 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jaroslav Pryriz C.SS.R.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Jesus Herrera Quinonez of the clergy of the diocese of Mexicali, Mexico, as bishop of Nuevo Casas Grandes (area 36,320, population 149,000, Catholics 130,000, priests 37, religious 45), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexicali in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He has worked as a pastor in the diocese of Mexicali, diocesan assistant to the Christian Family Movement, and secretary-chancellor of the diocesan curia.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Because of the rain, the Holy Father presided over this morning's celebration of the Word in the Paul VI Hall, rather than in St. Peter's Square as had been scheduled. The celebration of the Word took the place of the usual general audience, in view of the event due to take place tomorrow in the Italian town of Assisi: "Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World: Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace". Before the celebration this morning, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims gathered in the Vatican Basilica who had been unable to find space in the Paul VI Hall.

Following a greeting from Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope's vicar general for the diocese of Rome, and the readings from the Bible, the Holy Father pronounced his homily.

"As Christians", he said, "we are convinced that prayer is the most precious contribution we can make to the cause of peace. For this reason we, the Church of Rome and pilgrims from elsewhere, are gathered here today to listen to the Word of God and to invoke the gift of peace".

The Pope then quoted from the reading from the Prophet Zechariah, in which God promises salvation through a king. "But the announcement does not refer to a king with human powers and force of arms", he explained. "It does not refer to a king who dominates with political and military might. This is a gentle king who reigns with humility and gentleness before God and man, a king quite different from the great sovereigns of the earth".

The Apostles recalled the prophet's words particularly "following Christ's passion, death and resurrection when, ... with the eyes of faith, they reconsidered their Master's joyful entry into the Holy City. He rode a donkey which had been lent to Him, ... not a horse as the powerful did. He did not enter Jerusalem accompanied by a mighty army of chariots and horsemen. He is a poor king, the king of the poor of God, ... of those who have inner freedom enabling them to overcome the greed and selfishness of the world, of those who know that God alone is their treasure. ... He is a king who will make the chariots and steeds of battle disappear, who will break the weapons of war, a king who brought peace on the Cross, uniting heaven and earth and building a bridge between all mankind. The Cross is the new arch of peace, the sign and instrument of reconciliation, ... the sign that love is stronger that any form of violence or oppression, stronger than death. Evil is overcome through goodness, through love".

"The kingdom that Christ inaugurates is universal. The horizon of this poor and meek king is not the territorial horizon of a State, it is the confines of the world. He creates communion, He creates unity. And where do we see His announcement take concrete form today? In the great network of Eucharistic communities covering the earth, wherein the prophecy of Zechariah re-emerges in splendour. ... Everywhere, in all cultures, ... He comes and is present; and by entering into communion with Him, mankind is united into a single body, overcoming divisions, rivalry and rancour. The Lord comes in the Eucharist to divest us of our selfishness, our fixations which exclude others, to make us a single body, a single kingdom of peace in a divided world.

"And yet", the Holy Father added, "how can we build this kingdom of peace in which Christ is king? ... Like Jesus, the messengers of peace of His kingdom must begin a journey. ...They must journey, but not with the might of war or the force of power. ... It is not with power, force or violence that Christ's kingdom of peace grows, but with the giving of self, with love carried to its extreme consequences, even towards out enemies. Jesus does not conquer the world by force of arms but by the power of the Cross, which is the true guarantee of victory".

Continuing his homily, Benedict XVI mentioned the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul which stand in front of the Vatican Basilica. St. Peter holds the keys and St. Paul a sword, "the weapon with which he suffered martyrdom, with which his blood was spilt", said the Pope. St. Paul "dedicated his life to transmitting the Gospel's message of reconciliation and peace, using his every energy to ensure it reached the ends of the earth. His strength lay in the fact that he did not seek a quiet life, ... free from difficulties and setbacks. Rather, he was consumed by the Gospel, he gave all of himself without reserve, and thus became the great messenger of peace and reconciliation in Christ. The sword St. Paul holds in his hand also recalls the power of truth, which can sometimes wound and inflict pain, The Apostle remained faithful to this truth unto the end, ... he gave his life for it. The same logic holds true for us, if we wish to bring the kingdom of peace announced by the Prophet Zechariah and achieved by Christ: we must be ready to pay in person, to suffer ... misunderstanding, rejection and persecution. It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace, but the sword of those who suffer and give up their own lives".

The Holy Father concluded: "As Christians, we wish to invoke the gift of peace from God, we wish to pray that He might make us instruments of His peace in a world still torn apart by hatred, division, selfishness and wars, we wish to ask him that tomorrow's meeting in Assisi might favour dialogue between people from different religions, and bring a ray of light to illuminate the minds and hearts of all men and women; that rancour may give way to forgiveness, division to reconciliation, hatred to love, violence to humility, and that peace may reign in the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning's general audience in the form of a celebration of the Word, which was to have taken place in St. Peter's Square, was moved to the Paul VI Hall because of rain. One group of pilgrims, unable to find space in the Paul VI Hall, gathered in the Vatican Basilica where the Holy Father went to greet them before the audience began. "I ask you to accompany me in prayer as I journey tomorrow to Assisi for the celebration of the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, together with representatives of different religions", he said speaking English. Switching to French he expressed the hope that "this pilgrimage for truth and peace may help us to march towards God together, and to reinforce our commitment to serve peace".

At the end of the celebration of the Word in the Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI addressed the young, the sick and newlyweds. "May the example of St,. Francis of Assisi, over whose tomb I will pray tomorrow, support you, dear young people, in your daily commitment to Christ", he said. "May it encourage you, dear sick people, always to follow the example of Jesus in your trials and suffering; and may it help you, dear newlyweds, to make your family a place of constant encounter with the love of God and of our fellows".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Having greeted the pilgrims who attended this morning's celebration of the Word, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey. "At this time", he said, "our thoughts go out to the people of Turkey, who have been so severely affected by the earthquake which caused grave loss of human life, leaving many missing and causing great damage. I invite you to join me in prayer for the people who have lost their lives, and to remain spiritually close to those who have been so sorely tried. May Almighty God support everyone involved in rescue efforts".
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples held a press conference this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2012. The Day is due to be celebrated on 15 January 2012 under the theme of "Migrations and New Evangelisation". Participating in this morning's press conference were Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil and Fr. Gabriele Ferdinando Bentoglio C.S., respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

Archbishop Veglio explained how the Holy Father's Message is divided into three parts, covering migrant workers, refugees and international students. New evangelisation is addressed to all these groups, he said, in a social context in which "the mix of nationalities and religions is increasing exponentially. ... Faced with this challenge, the Church is impelled to reconsider her methods, forms of expression and language, so as to renew her missionary efforts. A 'new' evangelisation, then, does not affect the contents and the value of the missionary mandate, as handed down by Holy Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium".

Migration offers an opportunity to teach the Gospel to people from other regions of the world who have not yet met Christ. At the same time, many Christians migrate to countries in which theirs is a minority religion, or in which it has been reduced to a mere cultural phenomenon. In both these cases, lay people can announce the good news through word and example, supported by appropriate pastoral care. "New evangelisation in the world of migrants must, in fact, involve the laity and rest on dialogue at all levels", said archbishop Veglio.

Finally the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples expressed his desire to echo the Pope's words in thanking everyone "who dedicates time, energy and resources to the pastoral care of migrants, often in silence and sometimes even at the risk of their lives".

Bishop Kalathiparambil noted that, according to statistics of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 80 percent of the world's refugees are currently hosted in developing countries. At the same time, in many industrialised nations there are growing feelings of hostility towards such people. Christians, however, are called to see in asylum seekers and refugees "the face of Christ, which makes us brothers and sisters", he said. "Welcome may be defined as a sign which distinguishes the Church. It is the fundamental characteristic of pastoral solicitude for migrants and refugees, and runs counter to all feelings and expressions of xenophobia and racism".

Fr. Gabriele Bentoglio focused his remarks on the question of international students, whose numbers are expected to reach seven million by the year 2025. For this reason, he said, "there is an urgent and growing need that places of education and formation, especially universities, make the vital strategic link between the 'profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God'". At the same time, in a globalised world, "education must be extended to cover the integral formation of the person, and the transmission of such values as: individual and collective sense of responsibility, ethical work, and solidarity with the entire human family over and above national identity".

Finally Fr. Bentoglio announced that the pontifical council is in the process of organising a world congress on the pastoral care of international students. The congress, due to be held in Rome from 30 November to 3 December on the theme "International Students and the Meeting of Cultures", will bring together 123 delegates from all over the world, as well as representatives from religious institutes, lay associations and regional and international organisations.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "Migrations and New Evangelisation" is the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for his Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2012, which will be celebrated on 15 January 2012. Extracts from the English-language edition of the text are given below:

"Proclaiming Jesus Christ the one Saviour of the world 'constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent'. Indeed, today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelisation in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalisation are bringing individuals and peoples even closer. This is both because of the development of the means of social communication and because of the frequency and ease with which individuals and groups can move about today

"'Migrations and New Evangelisation' is the theme I have chosen this year for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. It originates from the aforesaid situation. The present time, in fact, calls upon the Church to embark on a new evangelisation also in the vast and complex phenomenon of human mobility. This calls for an intensification of her missionary activity both in the regions where the Gospel is proclaimed for the first time and in countries with a Christian tradition".

"Internal or international migration, in fact, as an opening in search of better living conditions or to flee from the threat of persecution, war, violence, hunger or natural disasters, has led to an unprecedented mingling of individuals and peoples, with new problems not only from the human standpoint but also from ethical, religious and spiritual ones. The current and obvious consequences of secularisation, the emergence of new sectarian movements, widespread insensitivity to the Christian faith and a marked tendency to fragmentation are obstacles to focusing on a unifying reference that would encourage the formation of 'one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found', as I wrote in my Message last year for this World Day. Our time is marked by endeavours to efface God and the Church’s teaching from the horizon of life, while doubt, scepticism and indifference are creeping in, seeking to eliminate all the social and symbolic visibility of the Christian faith".

"In this context migrants who have known and welcomed Christ are not infrequently constrained to consider Him no longer relevant to their lives, to lose the meaning of their faith, no longer to recognise themselves as members of the Church, and often lead a life no longer marked by Christ and His Gospel. Having grown up among peoples characterised by their Christian faith they often emigrate to countries in which Christians are a minority or where the ancient tradition of faith, no longer a personal conviction or a community religion, has been reduced to a cultural fact. Here the Church is faced with the challenge of helping migrants keep their faith firm even when they are deprived of the cultural support that existed in their country of origin, and of identifying new pastoral approaches, as well as methods and expressions, for an ever vital reception of the Word of God".

"The phenomenon of migration today is also a providential opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world. Men and women from various regions of the earth who have not yet encountered Jesus Christ or know Him only partially, ask to be received in countries with an ancient Christian tradition. It is necessary to find adequate ways for them to meet and to become acquainted with Jesus Christ and to experience the invaluable gift of salvation which, for everyone, is a source of 'life in abundance'".

"Pastoral workers - priests, religious and lay people - play a crucial role in the demanding itinerary of the new evangelisation in the context of migration. They work increasingly in a pluralist context: in communion with their ordinaries, drawing on the Church's Magisterium. I invite them to seek ways of fraternal sharing and respectful proclamation, overcoming opposition and nationalism. For their part, the Churches of origin, of transit and those that welcome the migration flows should find ways to increase their cooperation for the benefit both of those who depart and those who arrive, and, in any case, of those who, on their journey, stand in need of encountering the merciful face of Christ in the welcome given to one's neighbour".

"Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties. Their suffering pleads with individual States and the international community to adopt attitudes of reciprocal acceptance, overcoming fears and avoiding forms of discrimination, and to make provisions for concrete solidarity also through appropriate structures for hospitality and resettlement programmes. All this entails mutual help between the suffering regions and those which, already for years, have accepted a large number of fleeing people, as well as a greater sharing of responsibilities among States.

"The press and the other media have an important role in making known, correctly, objectively and honestly, the situation of those who have been forced to leave their homeland and their loved ones and want to start building a new life.

"Christian communities are to pay special attention to migrant workers and their families by accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity, by enhancing what is reciprocally enriching, as well as by fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person, the safeguard of the family, access to dignified housing, to work and to welfare".

"Lastly, I would like to mention the situation of numerous international students who are facing problems of integration, bureaucratic difficulties, hardship in the search for housing and welcoming structures. Christian communities are to be especially sensitive to the many young men and women who, precisely because of their youth, need reference points in addition to cultural growth, and have in their hearts a profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God. Universities of Christian inspiration are to be, in a special way, places of witness and of the spread of the new evangelisation, seriously committed to contributing to social, cultural and human progress in the academic milieu. They are also to promote intercultural dialogue and enhance the contribution that international students can give. If these students meet authentic Gospel witnesses and examples of Christian life".

"Dear friends", the Message concludes, "let us invoke the intercession of Mary, 'Our Lady of the Way', so that the joyful proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ may bring hope to the hearts of those who are on the move on the roads of the world. To one and all I assure my prayers and impart my apostolic blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Netherlands, presented by Bishop Johannes Gerardus Maria van Burgsteden S.S.S., upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Johannes Willibrordus Maria Hendriks of the clergy of the diocese of Rotterdam, Netherlands, canon of the cathedral chapter and rector of the major seminary of Haarlem-Amsterdam, as auxiliary of Haarlem-Amsterdam (area 2,912, population 2,847,001, Catholics 474,000, priests 208, permanent deacons 41, religious 701). The bishop-elect was born in Leidschendam, Netherlands in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1979. He obtained a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and has served as vice pastor and pastor in a number of parishes in his country. He teaches canon law at the major seminary of Haarlem-Amsterdam and is a consultor of the Congregation for the Clergy.
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Monday, October 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience bishops and priests who have been participating in the sixth international congress of military ordinaries, and in the third international training course on human rights for military chaplains. These initiatives have been promoted by the Congregation for Bishops and by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution "Spirituali militum curae", promulgated by Blessed John Paul II whose liturgical memory falls today.

The purpose of that Apostolic Constitution, the Pope explained, was "to give military ordinaries the chance to foster appropriate and well-organised pastoral care for an important part of the People of God: military men and women, and their families. ... This involves forming Christians who possess profound faith, who practice their religion with conviction, and who are authentic witnesses of Christ in their own environments. To achieve this, it is important for military bishops and chaplains to be aware of their responsibility to announce the Gospel and administer the Sacraments wherever the military and their families are present. ... Clearly, priests involved in this ministry must have a solid human and spiritual formation, constant concern for their own interior lives and, at the same time, a readiness to listen and enter into dialogue, so as to understand the individual and joint difficulties faced by the people entrusted to their care".

"The Church", the Pope went on, "wishes to offer the military and their families all means of salvation, providing not just ordinary pastoral care, but also the specific help they need to carry out their mission in a spirit of Christian charity. The military life of a Christian must, in fact, be seen in the light of the first and greatest of the Commandments, that of love for God and for neighbour, because Christians in the military are called to create a fusion whereby they can be soldiers for love, achieving the 'ministerium pacis inter arma'.

"I am thinking in particular", he added "of soldiers who practice charity by saving victims of earthquakes and floods, or by helping refugees, placing their courage and skills at the service of the weakest. I am thinking of soldiers who, at risk of their own lives, practice charity by removing mines in areas which were once theatres of war, or soldiers on peace missions who patrol cities and territories to ensure that their brothers do not kill one another. There are many men and women in uniform, full of faith in Jesus, who love truth and wish to foster peace and, as true disciples of Christ, serve their country by defending fundamental human rights"

Benedict XVI concluded by asking those present, and the priests and deacons who help them, to promote "a general renewal of hearts, which is a precondition for that universal peace to which all the world aspires".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Bavarian State Opera gave a concert in honour of Benedict XVI. The programme included the Ninth Symphony and the "Te Deum" by Anton Bruckner, played by the Bavarian State Orchestra and the "Audi Jugendchorakademie", conducted respectively by Kent Nagano and Martin Steidler.

At the end of the performance the Pope rose to thank the musicians. Listening to Bruckner's music, he said, "is like finding oneself in a great cathedral, surrounded by its imposing structures which arouse emotion and lift us to the heights. There is however an element that lies at the foundations of Bruckner's music, both the symphonic and the sacred: the simple, solid, genuine faith he conserved throughout his life".

"The great conductor Bruno Walter used to say that 'Mahler always sought after God, while Bruckner had found Him'. The symphony we have just heard has a very specific title: 'Dem lieben Gott' (To the Beloved God), almost as if he wished to dedicate and entrust the last and most mature fruit of his art to the One in Whom he had always believed, the One Who had become his only true interlocutor in the last stage of his life", the Holy Father said.

"Bruckner asked this beloved God to let him enter His mystery, ... to let him praise the Lord in heaven as he had on earth with his music. 'Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur'; this great work we have just heard - written at one sitting then reworked over fifteen years as if reconsidering how better to thank and praise God - sums up the faith of this great musician", Pope Benedict concluded. "It is also a reminder for us to open our horizons and think of eternal life, not so as to escape the present, though burdened with problems and difficulties, but to experience it more intensely, bringing a little light, hope and love into the reality in which we live".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2011 (VIS) - In view of the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to take place in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October 2012 on the theme "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith", the Holy Father appointed:

- Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., as relator general.

- Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carre, archbishop of Montpellier, France, as special secretary.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, and Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, as members of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

- Appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner archbishop of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Agnes of Bohemia, due to take place in the cathedral of Prague, Czech Republic, on 12 November.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Dhaka, Bangladesh, presented by Archbishop Paulinus Costa, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Patrick D'Rosario C.S.C.

- Appointed Fr. Piotr Greger of the clergy of the diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec, Poland, vice director of the St. John Cantius Theological Institute, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 3,000, population 770,000, Catholics 681,000, priests 633, religious 646). The bishop-elect was born in Tychy, Poland in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has worked as vice pastor and pastor in parishes of the diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec, and serves as the bishop's permanent delegate on the council of the "St. Edwige Foundation" at the Pontifical University of Krakow. He is also a member of the association of Polish theologians and a canon of the cathedral.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica, and canonised the following three blesseds: Guido Maria Conforti, Italian archbishop-bishop and founder of the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions (1865-1931); Luigi Guanella, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Charity and of the Institute of the Daughters of Our Lady of Providence (1842-1915), and Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph (1837-1905).

In the homily he pronounced following the rite of canonisation, the Pope first recalled how today marks World Mission Day, which annually seeks "to reawaken energy and commitment for the mission". He then went on to describe the characteristics of the three new saints who, he said, "allowed themselves to be transformed by divine love, around which they moulded their entire lives. In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart, and their neighbours as themselves, becoming an example to all believers".

The Holy Father explained how the motto of St. Guido Maria Conforti, "Caritas Christi urget nos" (Christ's Charity impels us), "sums up the programme of the missionary institute ... he founded: a religious family entirely dedicated to evangelisation, under the protection of the great apostle of the East, St. Francis Xavier". In his episcopal mission this new saint "dedicated his every effort to the good of the souls entrusted to his care, especially those who had abandoned the way of the Lord. His life was marked by many trials, some of them serious", but "in all circumstances, even amidst the most mortifying failures, he was able to recognise the plan of God Who guided him to build His Kingdom, particularly by self-denial and daily acceptance of divine will. ... He was the first to practise and bear witness to what he taught his missionaries: that perfection consists in doing God's will, following the model of the crucified Christ".

Speaking of St. Luigi Guanella, the Pope highlighted how "he practised the Gospel of Charity, which is 'the great commandment', with great courage and determination". He was "companion and teacher to the poorest and the weakest, their comfort and relief. Love of God made him desire the good of the people in his care, in the tangible reality of everyday life". Don Guanella, as he is known in Italy, "cultivated in his heart the hope that all human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, ... may draw out and give the best of themselves to others. ... In his witness, so charged with humanity and concern for the weakest, we see a glowing sign of the presence and benevolent action of God", the Holy Father said.

"From her beginnings", St. Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, "was able to unite her daily activities with adherence to Christ. She worked from childhood, not just as a way to avoid being a burden to others, but also a means to be free to realise her own vocation. This gave her the chance to attract and form other women who recognised God and heard His loving call in the world of work, discerning and realising their own life project. Thus the Sisters Servants of St. Joseph came into being, in the midst of that evangelical humility and simplicity which sees the home of Nazareth as a school of Christian life. ...We entrust ourselves to her intercession and plead to God for all workers, especially those who undertake the most humble and sometimes insufficiently appreciated tasks, so that, in the midst of their daily cares, they may discover the friendly hand of God and bear witness to His love, transforming their fatigue into a hymn of praise to the Creator".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass for the canonisation of Guido Maria Conforti, Luigi Guanella and Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, the Pope prayed the Angelus from the atrium of the Vatican Basilica, with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"May the example and intercession of these shining figures encourage everyone to a renewed commitment to live their faith in Christ to the full, and to bear witness to that faith in the various areas of society", he said.

Turning then to address Polish pilgrims, he recalled how on 22 October, "together with the diocese of Rome and the Church in Poland, we celebrated the liturgical memory of Blessed John Paul II". Finally, he invoked the Blessed Virgin to intercede for "the Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world: a pilgrimage to Assisi twenty-five years after the pilgrimage called by Blessed John Paul II".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received members of the John Paul II Foundation, who are currently celebrating their institution's thirtieth anniversary.

Speaking English, Benedict XVI addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of Blessed John Paul II, and to the promoters and the current president of the foundation. He then went on to recall how its goal is to conserve and develop the spiritual heritage of John Paul II in order to transmit it to future generations. Through its "Centre for the Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II", the foundation "not only collects archives, bibliographical material and museum items, but also promotes publications, exhibitions, congresses and other scientific and cultural events, in order to disseminate the teaching and the pastoral and humanitarian activity of the Blessed Pontiff".

Pope Benedict also laid emphasis on "one task of great human and cultural value, explicitly desired by John Paul II and undertaken by the foundation: that of assisting the 'formation of the clergy and the laity, especially those from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe'. Every year, students arrive in Lublin, Warsaw and Krakow from countries which, in former times, suffered the ideological oppression of the communist regime, in order to pursue studies in the various branches of science, so as to live new experiences, to encounter different spiritual traditions, and to broaden their cultural horizons. Then they return to their own countries, enriching the various sectors of social, economic, cultural, political and ecclesial life. More than 900 graduates is a precious gift for those nations. ... I hope that this work will continue, develop and bear abundant fruits".

The Holy Father concluded by noting that one primary accomplishment of the foundation has been the "spiritual union of thousands of people in various continents, who not only support it materially but constitute the Circles of Friends, communities of formation based on the teaching and the example of Blessed John Paul II. ... They discern the needs of the present, they look to the future with solicitude and confidence, and they commit themselves to imbue the world more deeply with the spirit of solidarity and fraternity. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit Who unites, enlightens and inspires you".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present a note from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace entitled: "Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of a global public authority". The document was presented by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and by Leonardo Becchetti, professor of political economy at the Roman University of "Tor Vergata".

Cardinal Turkson mentioned the sixth summit meeting of heads of government of the G-20 nations, due to take place in Cannes, France, on 3 and 4 November to discuss issues related to finance and the global economy. "The Holy Father and the Holy See", he said, "are following these matters with particular concern, constantly calling not just for 'joint action', but for 'examination of every facet of the problem: social, economic, cultural and spiritual'. It is in this spirit of discernment that the Holy See, with the note of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, wishes to make a contribution which might be useful to the deliberations of the G-20 meeting".

Bishop Toso explained that the aim of the note is "suggest possible paths to follow, in line with the most recent social Magisterium, for the implementation of financial and monetary policies ... that are effective and representative at a global level, and which seek the authentic human development of all individuals and peoples".

The Church does not wish to enter into the technical issues behind the current economic crisis, but remains within the ambit of her religious and ethical functions. Thus she highlights not just the moral causes of the crisis but, more specifically, the ideological causes. Old ideologies have been replaced by new ones, "neo-liberalist, neo-utilitarian, and technocratic which, by reducing the common good to economic, financial and technical questions, place the future of democratic institutions themselves at risk".

Bishop Toso spoke of the need to overcome these ideologies by "a new global humanism, open to transcendence, ... an ethic of brotherhood and solidarity, and by subordinating economy and finance to politics, which is responsible for the common good".

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, drawing from the social Magisterium of recent Pontiffs particularly John XXIII and Benedict XVI, proposes "that globalisation be regulated by a global public authority", Bishop Toso explained. The council also suggests the reform of current international institutions. They "must become an expression of free and shared agreement among peoples; more representative, and with greater levels of participation and legitimacy. ... They must be 'super partes', at the service of the universal good, capable of offering effective guidance and, at the same time, of allowing each country to express and pursue its own common good, according to the principle of subsidiarity and in the context of the global common good. Only in this way will international institutions manage to favour effective monetary and financial systems; in other words, free and stable markets regulated by an appropriate legal framework and working towards sustainable development and social progress for everyone".

This global authority "must see its power to lead and to deicide - and to impose penalties on the basis of the law - as a form of service to the various members States, a way of ensuring that they possess efficient markets".

To this end, Bishop Toso concluded, "it is necessary to restore the primacy of ethics and, therewith, the primacy of politics, which is responsible for the common good".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Jose de Queiros Alves C.SS.R. of Huambo.

- Archbishop Damiao Antonio Franklin of Luanda, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Anastacio Kahango O.F.M. Cap., and by Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento, archbishop emeritus.

- Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi C.S.Sp. of Lubango.

On Saturday 22 October he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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Friday, October 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language note published yesterday afternoon by the Holy See Press Office on the subject of the Holy See and Libya following the death of Colonel Gadaffi.

"The news of the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of a much too long and tragic phase of a brutal struggle to bring down a harsh and oppressive regime.

"This dramatic event obliges us yet again to reflect on the immense toll of human suffering which accompanies the affirmation and collapse of any system which is not based on the respect and dignity of the human person, but rather on the prevailing affirmation of power.

"It is hoped now that the Libyan people might be spared further violence due to a spirit of revenge, and that the new leaders can undertake as soon possible efforts necessary for bringing peace and rebuilding in a spirit of solidarity, based on justice and the rule of law. May the international community also be committed to generously helping in the rebuilding of the nation.

"For its own part, the small Catholic community will continue to offer its own witness and service to all people, especially in the charitable and health fields. The Holy See will assist the Libyan people with the instruments available to it in the field of international relations with a spirit of promoting justice and peace.

"In this regard, it is necessary to keep in mind that it is a constant practice that when the Holy See establishes diplomatic relations, it recognises States and not governments. For this reason the Holy See has not proceeded in establishing a formal recognition of the National Transitional Council (CNT) as the government of Libya. Given that the CNT is now acting effectively as the government in Tripoli, the Holy See considers it the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, in conformity with international law.

"The Holy See has already had contacts with the new Libyan authorities. Firstly, the Secretariat of State, which has the responsibility for the diplomatic relations of the Holy See, has been in contact with the Libyan Embassy to the Holy See following the political changes in Tripoli. During his recent participation at the General Assembly of the United Nations, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, had the opportunity to speak to Abdurrahman M. Shalgham, permanent representative of Libya to the United Nations. More recently, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, apostolic nuncio to Libya, who is based in Malta, travelled to Tripoli for a three-day visit (from 2-4 October) in which he met Mahmoud Jibril, prime minister of the CNT. Archbishop Caputo was also received by the minister for foreign affairs.

"During these various meetings the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Libya was affirmed by both sides. The Holy See renewed its support for the Libyan people and for the transition. The Holy See wished the new authorities every success in their rebuilding the country. On their own behalf, the leaders of the new Libya expressed their appreciation for the Holy Father's humanitarian appeals and the efforts of the Church in Libya through its services in hospitals and help centres run by thirteen religious communities (six in Tripolitania and seven in Cirenaica)".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Joseph Weterings, the new ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See. In his address to the diplomat the Pope recalled how the Holy See's contribution to international diplomacy "consists largely in articulating the ethical principles that ought to underpin the social and political order, and in drawing attention to the need for action to remedy violations of such principles.

"It does so, evidently, from the standpoint of the Christian faith", he added. "Christianity has always pointed to reason and nature as the sources of the norms on which a state of law should be built. Hence the diplomatic dialogue in which the Holy See engages is conducted neither on confessional nor on pragmatic grounds but on the basis of universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment".

Benedict XVI continued his English-language remarks: "In acting as a voice for the voiceless and defending the rights of the defenceless, including the poor, the sick, the unborn, the elderly, and the members of minority groups who suffer unjust discrimination, the Church seeks always to promote natural justice as it is her right and duty to do. While recognising with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes, the Church cannot do other than continue to urge all people, her own members included, to seek to do whatever is in accordance with justice and right reason and to oppose whatever is contrary".

He then went on to enumerate a number of areas of shared concern for the Holy See and the Netherlands, including the need to promote global peace through just resolution of conflicts, opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting self-reliance in emerging countries, and defending human dignity. He also recognised the "generous humanitarian response of the Dutch people when emergency aid is needed around the world".

The Holy Father spoke of his pleasure at "the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution", and concluded by expressing his appreciation at the promotion of freedom of religion in the Netherlands which, he said, "is a matter of particular concern to the Holy See at the present time".

Religious freedom, the Pope explained, "is threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies, even those where freedom of religion enjoys the protection of law. It is therefore greatly to be hoped that your government will be vigilant, so that the freedom of religion and freedom of worship will continue to be protected and promoted, both at home and abroad".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present an international congress dedicated to St. Catherine, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe. The congress will be held in Rome and Siena from 27 to 29 October.

The congress has as its title "'Virgo digna Coelo'. Catherine and her heritage on the 550th anniversary of her canonisation" and has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences in collaboration with the Dominican Order, the archdiocese of Siena and the St. Catherine International Study Centre. Today's press conference was presented by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Umberto Utro, curator of the Christian antiquities section of the Vatican Museums, and Fr. Bernardino Prella O.P., assistant for Malta and Italy of the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers.

Fr. Ardura pointed out that "the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value which, as we approach the Year of Faith, serves to remind us of the unshakeable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians". He went on to explain that the forthcoming congress will be divided into four sessions "to facilitate a more profound examination of the life and influence of the saint" who, he said, "also enjoyed great recognition among theologians, to the point that on 4 October 1970 Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, for her exalted theology and her influence in the renewal of that discipline".

The first session of the congress will see a contribution from Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The second session will be dedicated to the cause of canonisation of St. Catherine, including an examination of its documents and a review of models of female sanctity between 1300 and 1400. The third session will focus on the relationship between St. Catherine and the religious orders of her day. "In the fourth session", Fr. Ardura continued, "we will see how it is possible to study and celebrate St. Catherine today, because her memory has remained alive among Christians and her influence has never ceased to enrich the Church, mainly though hagiographies and literary culture, and in particular thanks to her magnificent Letters".

On its last day the congress will move to Siena for the inauguration of an exhibition entitled "Catherine of Siena and the process of canonisation". It will also hold its last session there, dedicated to "St. Catherine in art". Professor Utro explained that the session will take place in the chapter house of the convent of St. Dominic in Siena, and will be presided by Paolo Nardi, prior general of the International St. Catherine Association and curator of the exhibition. Other art historians will also participate, including Diega Giunta, the leading specialist on artistic representations of St. Catherine.

In his remarks Fr. Prella explained how, "in her writings, ... St. Catherine uses lively and audacious images to communicate the Truth that is Jesus Christ, freely addressing herself to everyone, to the humble and the great of the earth and of the Church. She firmly denounced the sins of the laity - and even more so those of monks, clergy and prelates - yet always offering everyone the hope of infinite divine mercy".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Peter Joseph Connors of Ballarat.

- Bishop William Wright of Maitland-Newcastle.

- Bishop Anthony Colin Fisher O.P. of Parramatta.

- Bishop Gerard Joseph Hanna bishop of Wagga Wagga.

- Bishop Kevin Michael Manning, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Wilcannia-Forbes.

- Bishop Peter William Ingham of Wollongong.

- Bishop Max Leroy Davis, military ordinary.

This evening he is scheduled to received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Pope travelled across Rome to inaugurate the "Domus Australia", a welcome centre for Australian pilgrims in the city. In his remarks he recalled the warm welcome he had received when he visited Australia for World Youth Day in 2008, and made mention of last year's canonisation of the first Australian saint, Mary MacKillop.

"Our earthly lives", the Holy Father said, "are spent journeying towards that ultimate goal, where 'no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him'. Here on earth, the Church's long tradition of pilgrimage to holy places serves to remind us that we are heavenward bound, it refocuses our minds on the call to holiness, it draws us ever closer to the Lord and strengthens us with spiritual food for the journey.

"Many generations of pilgrims", he added, "have made their way to Rome from all over the Christian world, in order to venerate the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and thereby to deepen their communion in the one Church of Christ, founded on the Apostles. In so doing, they strengthen the roots of their faith; and roots, as we know, are the source of life-giving sustenance. In that sense, pilgrims to Rome should always feel at home here, and the 'Domus Australia' will play an important part in creating a home for Australian pilgrims in the city of the Apostles. Yet roots are only a part of the story. According to a saying attributed to a great poet from my own country, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, there are two things that children should receive from their parents: roots and wings. From our holy Mother, the Church, we too receive both roots and wings: the faith of the Apostles, handed down from generation to generation, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, conveyed above all through the Sacraments of the Church".

Thus, the Holy Father concluded, "Pilgrims to this city return to their homelands renewed and strengthened in their faith, and borne aloft by the Holy Spirit in the journey onward and upward to their heavenly home".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The positive results of World Youth Day (WYD) 2008, celebrated in Sydney, Australia, and the recollection of the first country's saint, Mary MacKillop, were the central themes of remarks made this morning by Benedict XVI to prelates of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

The Pope mentioned the increased number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life in Australia in the wake of WYD 2008. This is proof, he said, of "the youthful vitality of the Church to which we all belong and the perennial relevance of the Good News which must be proclaimed afresh to every generation".

"St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop's "courageous response to the difficulties she faced throughout her life can also inspire today's Catholics as they confront the new evangelisation and serious challenges to the spread of the Gospel in society as a whole".

"It is true that yours is a pastoral burden which has been made heavier by the past sins and mistakes of others, most regrettably including some clergy and religious; but the task now falls to you to continue to repair the errors of the past with honesty and openness, in order to build, with humility and resolve, a better future for all concerned. I therefore encourage you to continue to be pastors of souls who, along with your clergy, are always prepared to go one step further in love and truth for the sake of the consciences of the flock entrusted to you, seeking to preserve them in holiness, to teach them humbly and to lead them irreproachably in the ways of the Catholic faith".

"You are conscious of your special duty to care for the celebration of the liturgy", Pope Benedict told the prelates in conclusion. "The new translation of the Roman Missal, which is the fruit of a remarkable cooperation of the Holy See, the bishops and experts from all over the world, is intended to enrich and deepen the sacrifice of praise offered to God by His people. Help your clergy to welcome and to appreciate what has been achieved, so that they in turn may assist the faithful as everyone adjusts to the new translation. As we know, the sacred liturgy and its forms are written deeply in the heart of every Catholic. Make every effort to help catechists and musicians in their respective preparations to render the celebration of the Roman Rite in your dioceses a moment of greater grace and beauty, worthy of the Lord and spiritually enriching for everyone".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, has written a message to Hindus for the feast of Deepavali. The message, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the pontifical council, is entitled: "Christians and Hindus: together in Promoting Religious Freedom". Deepvali celebrates the victory of truth over falsehood, of light over darkness, of life over death, of good over evil. The celebrations, which being this year on 26 October, last three days and mark the beginning of a new year, a time for family reconciliation, especially among brothers and sisters, and adoration of the divine.

Religious freedom, the text reads, currently takes "centre stage in many places, calling our attention to those members of our human family exposed to bias, prejudice, hate propaganda, discrimination and persecution on the basis of religious affiliation. Religious freedom is the answer to religiously motivated conflicts in many parts of the world. Amid the violence triggered by these conflicts, many desperately yearn for peaceful coexistence and integral human development".

The Message continues: "Religious freedom is numbered among the fundamental human rights rooted in the dignity of the human person. When it is jeopardised or denied, all other human rights are endangered. Religious freedom necessarily includes immunity from coercion by any individual, group, community or institution. Though the exercise of this right entails the freedom of every person to profess, practise and propagate his or her religion or belief, in public or in private, alone or in a community, it also involves a serious obligation on the part of civil authorities, individuals and groups to respect the freedom of others. Moreover, it includes the freedom to change one's own religion".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences eight prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their 'ad limina' visit:

- Archbishop Barry James Hickey of Perth, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Donald George Sproxton.

- Bishop Gerard Joseph Holohan of Bunbury.

- Bishop Justin Joseph Bianchini of Geraldton.

- Bishop Luc Julian Matthys of Armidale.

- Bishop Michael Joseph McKenna of Bathurst.

- Bishop David Louis Walker of Broken Bay.

- Bishop Geoffrey Hilton Jarrett of Lismore.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Some 20,000 pilgrims attended Benedict XVI's general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square. Continuing a series of catecheses dedicated to the Psalms, the Holy Father focused his attention on Psalm 136, "a great hymn of praise which celebrates the Lord in the many and repeated manifestations of His goodness down human history".

The Pope explained how, in Jewish tradition, this Psalm is sung at the end of the Passover supper, and therefore it was probably also pronounced by Jesus at the last Passover He celebrated with His disciples. The text enumerates God's many interventions in favour of His people "and each proclamation of a salvific action by the Lord is answered by an antiphon reiterating the main cause for praise: God's eternal love, a love which, according to the Hebrew term used, implies faithfulness, mercy, goodness, grace and tenderness".

God is first presented as "He Who 'does great wonders', first among them that of the creation: heaven, earth and stars. ... With the creation the Lord shows Himself in all His goodness and beauty. He commits Himself to life, revealing a desire for good whence all other salvific actions arise".

The Psalm goes on to consider God's manifestations in history, evoking the great moment when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The forty years of wandering in the desert were "a decisive period for Israel which, allowing itself to be guided by the Lord, learned to live on faith, obedient and docile to the laws of God. Those were difficult years, marked by the harshness of life in the desert, but also a happy time of confidence and filial trust in the Lord".

"The history of Israel has known exhilarating moments of joy, of fullness of life, of awareness of the presence of God and His salvation", said the Pope. "But it has also been marked by episodes of sin, painful periods of darkness and profound affliction. Many were the adversaries from whom the Lord liberated His people". The Psalm speaks of these events, in particular the Babylonian exile and the destruction of Jerusalem, "when it seemed that Israel had lost everything, even its own identity, even its trust in the Lord. However, God remembers, and frees. The salvation of Israel and of all mankind is bound to the Lord's faithfulness, to His memory. While man forgets easily, God remains faithful: His memory is a precious casket containing that 'love which endures forever' about which our Psalm speaks".

The Psalm concludes by reminding us that God feeds His creatures, "caring for life and giving bread. ... In the fullness of time the Son of God became man to give life, for the salvation of each one of us; and He continues to gives Himself as bread in the mystery of the Eucharist, so as to draw us into His covenant, which makes us children. So great is God's merciful goodness, the sublimity of His 'love which endures forever'". In conclusion the Pope read a quote from the First Letter of St. John, advising the faithful to bear it in mind in their prayers: "See what love the Father has given us, that that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as apostolic nuncio to the United States of America.

- Appointed Msgr. David D. Kagan of the clergy of the diocese of Rockford, U.S.A., vicar general and moderator of the diocesan Curia, as bishop of Bismarck (area 88,720, population 270,000, Catholics 65,284, priests 98, permanent deacons 77, religious 147), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Spring Grove, U.S.A. in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1975. He has served as parish administrator and pastor in several parishes, and has worked as a teacher of religion, an official of the diocesan tribunal and editor of the diocesan newspaper. He succeeds Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2011 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the "Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world: Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace", due to take place in the Italian town of Assisi on 27 October.

Participating in today's conference were: Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Bishop Mario Toso, S.D.B., secretary of the same pontifical council; Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, head of the Oriental Section of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas of the Pontifical Council for Culture, director of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" initiative.

By calling this Day in Assisi, Benedict XVI wishes to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting organised there by John Paul II in 1986. "The world today, as it did twenty-five years ago, needs peace", said Cardinal Turkson. "Following two and a half decades of collaboration and joint witness among religions, it is time to assess the results and to relaunch our commitment in the face of new challenges", he explained. Those challenges include "the financial and economic crisis which is lasting longer than expected, the crisis in democratic and social institutions, food and environmental problems, biblical-scale migrations, indirect forms of neo-colonialism, the scourge of poverty and hunger, unchecked international terrorism, and greater inequality and religious discrimination".

"Once more - and suffice to consider recent events in Egypt and other parts of the world - we must say 'no' to any exploitation of religion. Violence among religions is a scandal which distorts the true identity of religions, it obscures the face of God and distances us from the faith.

"The journey of religions towards justice and peace", the cardinal added, "must be characterised by a joint search for truth. ... Therefore Benedict XVI wishes the 2011 initiative in Assisi ... to be seen as a pilgrimage; the which implies asceticism, purification, convergence towards a more exalted place, and taking on a community responsibility".

The search for truth "is a precondition for knowing one another better, for overcoming all forms of prejudice, and of syncretism which obscures identity". It likewise helps us "to collaborate for the common good" and facilitates our "coming together on the plane of natural reason". It is a prerequisite "for defeating fanaticism and fundamentalism, according to which peace comes about by imposing one's own convictions on others", and for overcoming "the Babel of languages and the laicism which seeks to remove from the human family the One Who is its Beginning and End".

Turning to consider the programme of events for the Day, the cardinal explained that the various delegations will leave Rome by train on 27 October, in the company of the Holy Father. Having arrived in Assisi, they will make their way to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where the delegations will recall the previous meetings there and explore the theme of the Day in greater depth. The Holy Father will also deliver an address. That afternoon, those present in will make a "pilgrimage" to the Basilica of St. Francis, being joined on the last stage by the members of the delegations. Having reached the basilica, everyone will make a solemn renewal of their joint commitment to peace.

More than fifty nations will be represented in Assisi. They will include, apart from many European and American countries, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Philippines and many others. "Those which, at this moment in history, perhaps suffer most from problems associated with religious freedom and dialogue between religions", Cardinal Turkson observed.

For his part, Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, pointed out that the Pope has, for the first time, also invited non-believers to a religious meeting. "This innovative idea of the Holy Father's", he said, "is based on the conviction that men and women, both believers and non-believers, are always searching for God, for the Absolute, and that they are, therefore, all pilgrims travelling towards the fullness of truth".

The Pope's invitation to participate in the Day has been accepted by the French linguist, psychoanalyst, philosopher and writer Julia Kristeva; the Italian philosopher Remo Bodei; the Mexican philosopher Guillermo Hurtado, and the Austrian economist Walter Baier.
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Monday, October 17, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "Over the last 120 years, during which the social doctrine of the Church has developed, many great changes have taken place which were not even imaginable at the time of Leo XIII's historic Encyclical 'Rerum novarum'. Nonetheless, the alteration in external circumstances has not changed the inner richness of the social Magisterium, which always promotes human beings and the family in their life context, including that of business".

These words were addressed by the Pope this morning to participants in the annual congress of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" foundation, who are focusing their reflections on the relationship between families and business. The 2011 congress coincides with the twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Encyclical "Centesimus annus" (published 100 years after "Rerum novarum"), and with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio".

"Vatican Council II spoke of families as a 'domestic Church', an inviolable sanctuary", said the Pope, "and economic laws must always take account of the interests and the protection of this fundamental cell of society". He then went on to recall how John Paul II, in his "Familiaris consortio", identified four tasks for the family: forming a community of persons; serving life; participating in the development of society, and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. "All four of these functions are founded on love, which is the goal of all education and formation in the family. ... It is first and foremost in the family that we learn that, in order to live well in society (including the world of work, economy and business), we must be guided by 'caritas', following a logic of gratuitousness, solidarity and mutual responsibility".

"In our own difficult times we are unfortunately witnessing a crisis in work and the economy which is associated with a crisis in families. ... What we need, therefore, is a new and harmonious relationship between family and work, to which the social doctrine of the Church can make an important contribution". In this context, the Pope referred to his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" saying that :"Commutative justice - 'giving in order to acquire' - and distributive justice - 'giving through duty' - are not sufficient in the life of society. In order for true justice to exist, it is necessary to add gratuitousness and solidarity. 'Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State'".

"Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself", said Benedict XVI.

"It is not the task of the Church to find ways to face the current crisis", he concluded. "Nonetheless, Christians have the duty to denounce evils, and to foment and bear witness to the values upon which the dignity of the person is founded, promoting forms of solidarity which favour the common good, so that humankind may increasingly become the family of God".
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