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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The third meeting of the Viet Nam - Holy See Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on 27 and 28 February. The meeting was co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, vice minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.

The meeting, which "took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect" according to the final communique, served to examine international issues, to review progress in relations following the working group's second meeting in June 2010, and to discuss issues related to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam.

"The Vietnamese delegation", the English-language communique reads, "emphasised that the State of Viet Nam has always implemented and continually improved the policy to respect and ensure freedom of belief and religion for the people; encouraged the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively and effectively participate in the current course of national, economic and social development.

"From its part, the delegation of the Holy See took note of these considerations and expressed appreciation for the attention given by civil authorities to the activities of the Catholic Church. ... The Holy See expressed the wish that its role and mission be strengthened and extended in order to enhance the bonds between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Viet Nam as well as the intention of Viet Nam and of the Holy See to develop their relationship".

The communique goes on: "Both sides recalled the teachings of His Holiness Pope Benedict's XVI, ... and his considerations concerning being a good Catholic and a good citizen, and stressed the need for continued cooperation between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in order to concretely and practically implement those teachings in all activities.

"The two sides came up with an assessment that the Viet Nam - Holy See relationship has attained positive developments on the basis of good will and constructive dialogue, as well as respect for principles in the relationship".

The next meeting will be held in the Vatican on a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels.

While in Viet Nam, the Holy See delegation paid courtesy calls to Pham Binh Minh, minister of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Thanh Xuan, vice standing chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, and to a number of Catholic institutions.


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The administrative council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent) recently concluded its thirtieth meeting in Rome.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", of which the foundation is part, explained that the administrative council had focused its attention on the financing of a number of projects. "This year", he said, "we have assigned over two million dollars for more than 200 projects in the nine countries which make up the foundation. These projects involve the struggle against desertification and drought, as well as irrigation and education".

Msgr. Dal Toso noted that the re-emergence of the problem of drought in the Sahel highlights the urgency of the measures taken. The lack of food resulting from the impact of drought on agriculture "will reach its peak in the coming months. ... Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organisations are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis, he said.

The secretary of "Cor Unum" pointed out that the Church represents a minority in the countries of the Sahel. "In some cases a truly minuscule minority, in an environment characterised by the presence of Islam and of traditional religions". For this reason the John Paul II Foundation also serves as "an instrument of dialogue with other religions. ... As the Pope's teaching has recently been highlighting, faith is expressed in works, and what we manage to express through charity seeks in its own small way ... to bear witness to Christ".

The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel came into being following that Pope's first trip to Africa in May 1980, where he was greatly struck by the tragic consequences of desertification. The foundation was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984, and is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Luiz Henrique da Silva Brito of the clergy of the diocese of Campos, Brazil. diocesan chancellor, spiritual director of the diocesan seminary of "Maria Imaculada" and pastor of the parish of "Sao Benedito", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 6,158,000, Catholics 3,737,000, priests 602, permanent deacons 124, religious 1,044), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Goncalo, Brazil in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1991. He studied in Brazil and in Rome. Apart from his pastoral work, he is defender of the bond at the ecclesiastical tribunal of the archdiocese of Niteroi and professor of moral theology at the archdiocesan seminary.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The programme of the Holy Father's forthcoming trip to Milan, Italy, for the Seventh World Meeting of Families was published today. The meeting is due to last from Tuesday 29 May to Sunday 3 June and will have as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration". Benedict XVI will be present for the last three days.

The Holy Father will arrive at Milan's Linate airport at 5 p.m. on Friday 1 June, where he will be welcomed by the local authorities. At 5.30 p.m. he is due to meet citizens in the Piazza del Duomo and deliver an address. At 7.30 p.m. he will visit La Scala opera house where a concert is scheduled to be held in his honour.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday 2 June the Holy Father will celebrate Lauds and pronounce a meditation in the cathedral of Milan, in the company of priests and religious. He will then travel by car to the city's San Siro stadium for a meeting with young people who are due to receive Confirmation this year. In the afternoon Benedict XVI is due to deliver an address before the local authorities. At 8.30 p.m. he will move on to Milan's Parco Nord for the Feast of Testimonies of the World Meeting of Families.

On Sunday 3 June, Benedict XVI will preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Parco Nord. After praying the Angelus he will return to the archbishopric where, that afternoon, he will meet with members of the "Milano Famiglie 2012" foundation and with the organisers of his visit. At 5.30 p.m. the Holy Father will bid farewell to the authorities at Linate airport before boarding his return flight to Rome.

The World Meetings of Families trace their origins back to 1981 when Blessed John Paul II promulgated the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and established the Pontifical Council for the Family. The first meeting was held in Rome in 1994 and they have been taking place every three years since then. Their purpose is to celebrate the divine gift of family, to bring families together to pray, and to increase understanding of the role of the Christian family as a domestic Church and the basic cell of evangelisation.


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The Twelfth Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops recently held its seventh meeting. The outcome of their deliberations has been made public in a press communique.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, began by recalling that the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is due to be held in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith". The members of the council then turned their attention to a draft version of the "Instrumentum laboris" or working document of the forthcoming Synod, pausing to examine the issue of "the recipients of the new evangelisation and the identity of Christians in their relationship with Christ".

The communique notes that "debate was particularly intense concerning the primacy of the faith at this time in history, characterised as it is by a crisis in faith which is also a crisis in the transmission of faith. Mention was made of the 'fruitlessness of current evangelisation', also due to the influence of modern culture which makes the transmission of the faith particularly difficult, and represents a challenge for both Christians and the Church. In this context, the Year of Faith will be a good occasion to develop to gift of the faith received from the Lord, to live it and transmit it to others.

"The primary place for the transmission of faith was identified in the family", the communique adds. "There the faith is communicated to young people who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice of Christian faith. The indispensable efforts of families are then extended by catechesis in ecclesial institutions, especially through the the liturgy with the Sacraments and the homily, or by giving space to parish missions popular piety, movements and ecclesial communities".


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - On Sunday 4 March, dioceses in Spain will be celebrating Spanish America Day and, for the occasion, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America has published a message entitled: "Committed with America to the New Evangelisation", signed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., president of the commission.

"Today", the message reads, "the Church in Spain and the Church in America are, in some sense, facing the same challenges. Their rich Catholic tradition ... runs the risk of gradual erosion, Secularisation is advancing on all sides. There is no lack of hostility to the presence and message of the Church. The hedonistic and relativist trend of consumer and media society tends to displace and uproot the Christian culture of the people".

Therefore, it is necessary "to update, reformulate and revitalise Catholic tradition, rooting it more firmly in people's hearts, in the lives of families and in the culture of peoples, so that it may shine forth as beauty of truth, and as a promise of happiness and of a more human life for everyone". Both America and Europe are in need of a new evangelisation.

Speaking in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, Benedict XVI noted that Latin America's most precious heritage is its Catholic faith, which "has animated its life and culture ... for more than five centuries". This heritage, as the bishops gathered in Aparecida said, finds expression "in charity, which on all sides inspires gestures and initiatives of solidarity with the poorest and those most in need". Likewise, it foments "an awareness of the dignity of the person, wisdom about life, passion for justice, hope against all hope, and joy of living even in very difficult circumstances".

The message of the pontifical commission recalls how "calls for a 'new evangelisation' have been made very frequently, by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and addressed in particular to Europe and America. ... There is a need for people who show that God is present in their own lives and at all levels of existence and coexistence; people who invite others to share a life that is new, authentic and more human, a life that refers back to the event which made it possible and which continually regenerates it. ... May the People of God not fail to pray in all dioceses on this Day, that divine providence may arouse new missionary vocations".

The message contains a number of recommendations to strengthen missionary commitment to new evangelisation. These include welcoming families and communities of Latin American immigrants, especially in the current period of crisis "because they need the closeness, solidarity, charity, evangelisation and catechesis of Christian communities". Another important aspect is to welcome Latin American priests who undertake pastoral service in foreign dioceses, and to involve young people in new evangelisation, following the journey which began with World Youth Day in Madrid on "a spiritual, educational an missionary pilgrimage" to the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - An exhibition entitled "'Lux in Arcana' - the Vatican Secret Archives unveiled", organised to mark the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Archives, will be inaugurated in Rome's Capitoline Museums tomorrow. The exhibition, which will remain open until 9 September, includes around 100 documents of great importance, including Clement VII's letter to the English parliament on the matrimonial cause of Henry VIII, the bull of excommunication against Martin Luther, documents from the trial of the Templars in France, and a letter from St. Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes to Pope Pius IX.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Vatican City, 26 February 2012 (VIS) - The Pope and the Roman Curia began their annual spiritual exercises this evening, the first Sunday of Lent.

This year's meditations are being directed by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who will focus on the theme of "the communion of Christians with God".

The exercises are being held in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, and will come to an end on Saturday 3 March. During the retreat all audiences are suspended, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 29 February.


Vatican City, 26 February 2012 (VIS) - In his reflections before praying the Angelus this morning with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI commented on the Gospel reading from this Sunday's liturgy, St. Mark's narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

"The Lord chose to undergo the attack of the tempter so as to defend us with His help and instruct us with His example", said the Holy Father quoting a text written by St. Leo the Great. This episode teaches us that man is never free from temptation, but we can become stronger than any enemy "by following the Lord every day with patience and humility, learning to build our lives not without Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation to remove God, to regulate ourselves and the world counting only on our own abilities, has always been present in the history of man", the Pope said.

In Christ, God addresses man "in an unexpected way, with a closeness that is unique, tangible and full of love. God became incarnate and entered man's world in order to take sin upon Himself, to overcome evil and to bring man back into God's world. But His announcement was accompanied by a request to respond to such a great gift. Indeed, Jesus said "repent, and believe in the good news'. This is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert every day of our lives to His will, orienting our every action and our every thought towards what is good. The period of Lent is a good time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of fraternal charity".

Following the Angelus the Pope greeted pilgrims in a number of different languages, asking them to pray for him as he and the Roman Curia retire for their Lenten spiritual exercises, which begin this evening.


Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received 200 scientists and members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is currently celebrating its eighteenth general assembly on the theme: "The diagnosis and treatment of infertility". This subject, said the Pope, "has particular scientific importance, and is an expression of the concrete possibility of fruitful dialogue between ethics and biomedical research".

"Research into diagnosis and therapy is the most scientifically correct approach to the question of infertility, as well as being the most respectful of the human condition of the people involved", said Benedict XVI. "Indeed, the union of a man and a woman, in that community of love and life which is marriage, represents the only worthy 'place' for a new human being to be called into existence".

The Pope explained how "the human and Christian dignity of procreation does not lie in a 'product', but in its bond with the conjugal act: that expression of the spouses' love for one another, that union which is not only biological but also spiritual. ... An infertile couple's legitimate aspirations to become parents must therefore, with the help of science, find a response which is fully respectful of their dignity as people and as spouses". Yet, the Holy Father said, the field of human procreation seems to be dominated "by scientism and the logic of profit", which often "restrict many other areas of research.

"The Church is attentive to the suffering of infertile couples", he added, "and her concern for them is what leads her to encourage medical research. Science, nonetheless, is not always capable of responding to the needs of many couples, and so I would like to remind those who are experiencing infertility that their matrimonial vocation is not thereby frustrated. By virtue of their baptismal and matrimonial vocation, spouses are always called to collaborate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation of self-giving and this is something which no bodily condition can impede. Therefore, when science cannot provide an answer, the light-giving response comes from Christ".

Benedict XVI invited the participants in the general assembly to continue to develop "a science which is intellectually honest and dedicated to the continual search for the good of mankind. ... Indifference towards truth and goodness is a dangerous threat to authentic scientific progress", he warned. In conclusion, the Pope encouraged his audience to dialogue with faith because "it was Christian culture - rooted in the affirmation of the existence of Truth, and the intelligibility of reality in the light of Supreme Truth - which enabled modern scientific knowledge to develop in mediaeval Europe, a knowledge which in earlier cultures had remained in the bud".


Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, accompanied by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the same congregation.


Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, Italy, as archbishop of Cagliari (area 4,041, population 572,615, Catholics 567,615, priests 247, permanent deacons 37, religious 919), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Giuseppe Mani, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia, presented by Bishop Gilberto Jimenez Narvaez, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop John F. Du of Dumaguete, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Palo (area 4,620, population 1,762,000, Catholics 1,362,000, priests 161, religious 191), Philippines.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning the Holy Father met with priests of the diocese of Rome. Following a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Benedict XVI delivered a long off-the-cuff commentary on the Gospel passage.

The Apostle says: "I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

The first call we receive is that of Baptism, the Pope explained, the second is the vocation to be pastors at the service of Christ. "The great ill of the Church in Europe and the West today is the lack of priestly vocations. Yet, the Lord calls always, what is lacking are ears to listen. We listened to the Lord's voice and must remain attentive when that voice is addressed to others. We must help to ensure the voice is heard so that the call will be accepted".

According to St. Paul, the primary virtue which must accompany vocation is humility. This is the virtue of the followers of Christ Who, "being equal to God, humbled Himself, accepting the status of servant, and obeying even unto the cross. This was the Son's journey of humility, which we must imitate. ... The opposite of humility is pride, the root of all sin. Pride means arrogance, which above all seeks power and appearance. ... It has no intention of pleasing God; rather of pleasing itself, of being accepted, even venerated, by others. The 'self' becomes the centre of the world; the prideful self which knows everything. Being Christian means overcoming this original temptation, which is also the nucleus of original sin: being like God, but without God".

By contrast "humility is above all truth, ... recognition that I am a thought of God in the construction of His world, that I am irreplaceable as I am, in my smallness, and that only in this way am I great. ... Let us learn this realism; not seeking appearance, but seeking to please God and to accomplish what He has thought out for us, and thus also accepting others. ... Acceptance of self and acceptance of others go together. Only by accepting myself as part of the great divine tapestry can I also accept others, who with me form part of the great symphony of the Church and Creation". In this way, likewise, we learn to accept our position within the Church, knowing that "my small service is great in the eyes of God".

Lack of humility destroys the unity of Christ's Body. Yet at the same time, unity cannot develop without knowledge. "One great problem facing the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, 'religious illiteracy'", the Pope said. "With such illiteracy we cannot grow. ... Therefore we must reappropriate the contents of the faith, not as a packet of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality revealed in its all its profoundness and beauty. We must do everything possible for catechetical renewal in order for the faith to be know, God to be known, Christ to be known, the truth to be known, and for unity in the truth to grow".

We cannot, Benedict XVI warned, live in "a childhood of faith". Many adults have never gone beyond the first catechesis, meaning that "they cannot - as adults, with competence and conviction - explain and elucidate the philosophy of the faith, its great wisdom and rationality" in order to illuminate the minds of others. To do this they need an "adult faith". This does not mean, as has been understood in recent decades, a faith detached from the Magisterium of the Church. When we abandon the Magisterium, the result is dependency "on the opinions of the world, on the dictatorship of the communications media". By contrast, true emancipation consists in freeing ourselves of these opinions, the freedom of the children of God. "We must pray to the Lord intensely, that He may help us emancipate ourselves in this sense, to be free in this sense, with a truly adult faith, ... capable of helping others achieve true perfection ... in communion with Christ".

The Pope went on: "Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".

"Where there is truth, there is charity", the Pope concluded. "This, thanks be to God, can be seen in all centuries, despite many sad events. The fruits of charity have always been present in Christianity, just as they are today. We see it in the martyrs, we see it in so many nuns, monks, and priests who humbly serve the poor and the sick. They are the presence of Christ's charity and a great sign that the truth is here".


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received members of the "Circolo di San Pietro" who gave him, as they traditionally do every year, the "Peter's Pence" collection which is raised annually in parishes and religious institutes of the diocese of Rome. The sum is offered to the Pope to help him respond to the many petitions that come to him from around the world, especially from the poorest countries.

Benedict XVI thanked the members of the group for their efforts in favour of the needy, including canteens for the poor, shelters and international aid, and he encouraged them to ensure that faith, charity and witness continue to be the guiding principles of their apostolate.

"Lent has just begun", the Pope noted, "a liturgical period which invites us to reflect upon the nucleus of Christian life: charity. ... The witness of charity has a particular effect upon the heart of mankind; the new evangelisation ... requires great openness of spirit and a sagacious readiness to accept everyone", he said.

The Holy Father highlighted how "the authenticity of our faithfulness to the Gospel may also be measured in terms of the concern and solicitude we effectively strive to show towards others, especially the weak and the marginalised. Concern for others involves wishing their good in all aspects: physical, moral, and spiritual. Although modern culture seems to have lost a sense of good and evil, we must reaffirm that goodness exists and it triumphs.

"Responsibility towards our fellows means, then, wanting and doing good for others, hoping that they too will open themselves to the logic of goodness", he added. "Concern for our brothers and sisters means opening our eyes to their needs, overcoming that hardness of heart which makes us blind to others' suffering. Thus the service of charity becomes a privileged form of evangelisation, also in the light of Jesus' teaching, Who will consider what we have done to our fellows, especially the smallest and weakest, as having been done to Him".

Concluding his address, Benedict XVI highlighted the need to "bring our hearts into harmony with Christ's heart, so that our loving support for others may be translated into participation and sharing of their suffering and hopes. This will reveal both God's infinite mercy for all mankind, ... and our own faith in Him. Meeting others and opening our hearts to their needs is an opportunity for salvation and beatitude".

The "Circolo di San Pietro" was founded in Rome in 1869 by a group of young people under the guidance of Cardinal Jacobini and delegated by the Pope to exercise charity towards the poor.


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received His Majesty Siaosi Tupou V, King of Tonga. The King subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions dwelt on various aspects of the country's social and economic life, as well as on the positive contribution the Catholic Church makes in various sectors of society, and her activities of human promotion. There followed an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to the Pacific island States.


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following declaration:

"In accordance with the decision taken at the end of the second meeting of the Vietnam - Holy See Joint Working Group, held in the Vatican on 23 and 24 June 2010, the third meeting of the Joint Working Group will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 27 and 28 February. Following a number of visits by the non-resident Pontifical representative to Vietnam, the meeting will serve to strengthen and develop bilateral relations".


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

- Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, apostolic nuncio to Italy and the Republic of San Marino.

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


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the new eparchy of Segheneity (area 29,499, population 850,000, Catholics 35,557, priests 52, religious 70) Eritrea, with territory taken from the eparchy of Asmara. He appointed Fr. Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, vicar general of Asmara, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1996. He studied in Rome and has been active in pastoral work in and around Asmara.

- Appointed Fr. Dominik Schwaderlapp of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, vicar general and canon of the metropolitan chapter, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 6,181, population 5,200,000, Catholics 2,111,166, priests 1,061, permanent deacons 317, religious 2,028). The bishop-elect was born in Selters/Westerwald, Germany in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1993. He has worked in pastoral care and served for a number of years as private secretary to the archbishop of Cologne

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Città del Vaticano, 23 febbraio 2012 (VIS). Nel pomeriggio di ieri, Mercoledì delle Ceneri, il Santo Padre ha presieduto la tradizionale processione penitenziale dalla Chiesa di Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino, alla Basilica di Santa Sabina. Alla processione hanno partecipato numerosi Cardinali, Arcivescovi e Vescovi e i Monaci Benedettini di Sant'Anselmo, i Padri Domenicani di Santa Sabina ed alcuni fedeli.

 Dopo la processione, Benedetto XVI ha presieduto la Celebrazione Eucaristica con il rito di benedizione e imposizione delle ceneri. Ricevute le ceneri dalle mani del Cardinale Josef Tomko, titolare della Basilica, il Papa ha imposto le ceneri ai cardinali, ad alcuni monaci, religiosi e fedeli. Dopo la proclamazione del vangelo, il Santo Padre ha tenuto l'omelia in cui ha spiegato il significato del segno liturgico delle ceneri "un segno materiale, un elemento della natura, che diventa nella Liturgia un simbolo sacro, molto importante in questa giornata che dà inizio all’itinerario quaresimale".

"La cenere è uno di quei segni materiali che portano il cosmo all’interno della Liturgia. (...) Si tratta (...) di un segno non sacramentale, ma pur sempre legato alla preghiera e alla santificazione del Popolo cristiano". Prima dell'imposizione individuale sul capo, il sacerdote benedice le ceneri; in una delle due formule di benedizione si fa riferimento al testo del Libro della Genesi che accompagna il gesto dell'imposizione: "Ricordati che sei polvere e in polvere ritornerai" (cfr Gen 3,19) Questo passo della Genesi conclude il giudizio pronunciato da Dio dopo il peccato originale.

A causa del peccato di Adamo, Dio maledice il suolo da cui egli è stato tratto, quando, dopo la creazione del mondo "il Signore Dio plasmò l'uomo con polvere del suolo e soffiò nelle sue narici un alito di vita e l'uomo divenne un essere vivente (Gen 2,7-8. (...) Il segno della cenere ci riporta al grande affresco della creazione, in cui si dice che l’essere umano è una singolare unità di materia e di soffio divino, attraverso l’immagine della polvere del suolo plasmata da Dio e animata dal suo respiro (...)  Possiamo osservare come nel racconto della Genesi il simbolo della polvere subisca una trasformazione negativa a causa del peccato. Mentre prima della caduta il suolo è una potenzialità totalmente buona (...) dopo la caduta (...) la polvere della terra non richiama più solo il gesto creatore di Dio, tutto aperto alla vita, ma diventa segno di un inesorabile destino di morte: 'Polvere tu sei e in polvere ritornerai'".

La terra partecipa alla sorte dell'uomo e concederà i suoi frutti solo in cambio di 'dolore' e 'sudore del volto'. (...) "Questa maledizione del suolo ha una funzione medicinale per l’uomo, che dalle 'resistenze' della terra dovrebbe essere aiutato a mantenersi nei suoi limiti e riconoscere la propria natura (...) Ciò significa che l’intenzione di Dio, che è sempre benefica, è più profonda della maledizione. Questa, infatti, è dovuta non a Dio ma al peccato, però Dio non può non infliggerla, perché rispetta la libertà dell’uomo e le sue conseguenze, anche negative. (...) Insieme con la giusta punizione intende anche annunciare una via di salvezza, che passerà proprio attraverso la terra, attraverso quella 'polvere', quella 'carne' che sarà assunta dal Verbo".

La Liturgia del Mercoledì delle Ceneri riprende le parole della Genesi in una prospettiva salvifica "come invito alla penitenza, all’umiltà, ad avere presente la propria condizione mortale, ma non per finire nella disperazione, bensì per accogliere, proprio in questa nostra mortalità, l’impensabile vicinanza di Dio, che, oltre la morte, apre il passaggio alla risurrezione, al paradiso finalmente ritrovato".

La possibilità per noi del perdono divino dipende essenzialmente dal fatto che Dio stesso, nella persona del suo Figlio, ha voluto condividere la nostra condizione, ma non la corruzione del peccato. E il Padre lo ha risuscitato con la potenza del suo Santo Spirito e Gesù, il nuovo Adamo, è diventato (...) la primizia della nuova creazione".

  "Quel Dio che scacciò i progenitori dall’Eden - ha concluso il Pontefice - ha mandato il proprio Figlio nella nostra terra devastata dal peccato, (...) affinché noi, figli prodighi, possiamo ritornare, pentiti e redenti dalla sua misericordia, nella nostra vera patria. Così sia, per ciascuno di noi, per tutti i credenti, per ogni uomo che umilmente si riconosce bisognoso di salvezza".


Città del Vaticano, 23 febbraio 2012 (VIS). Questa mattina, nell'Aula Paolo VI, il Santo Padre ha ricevuto i parroci e i sacerdoti del clero della Diocesi di Roma - di cui il Pontefice è il Vescovo - che come di consueto riceve all'inizio della Quaresima. L'udienza si svolge in forma di "lectio divina": dopo la lettura di un frammento della Lettera di San Paolo agli Efesini (4,1 - 16), il Papa ha commentato il testo. Al termine la recita del Padre Nostro e la Benedizione Apostolica.


Città del Vaticano, 23 febbraio 2012(VIS). L’Ufficio delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche del Sommo Pontefice ha dato comunicazione della seguente presa di possesso:

Domenica 26 febbraio 2012, alle ore 11:00, il Cardinale Fernando Filoni, Prefetto della Congregazione per l'Evangelizzazione dei Popoli, prenderà possesso della Diaconia di Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio, Largo Nostra Signora di Coromoto, 2.


Città del Vaticano, 23 febbraio 2012 (VIS). Il Santo Padre ha accettato la rinuncia al governo pastorale dell’Arcidiocesi di Calcutta in India presentata dall'Arcivescovo Lucas Sirkar S.D.B., per raggiunti limiti d'età. Gli succede l'Arcivescovo Thomas D’Souza, Coadiutore della medesima Arcidiocesi.


Vatican City, 23 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI presided over the traditional penitential procession from the church of St. Anselm on Rome's Aventine Hill to the nearby basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass. Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of St. Anselm, the Dominican Fathers of Santa Sabina and lay faithful participated in the event.

Following the procession, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist and the rite of the imposition of the ashes. He received ashes from Cardinal Jozef Tomko, titular of the basilica, then distributed ashes to the cardinals and bishops present, as well as to various members of the faithful. Following the Gospel reading the Pope pronounced his homily, explaining that ashes are "an element of nature which through the liturgy become a sacred symbol, one of great importance on this day which marks the beginning of the Lenten journey".

"Ashes are one of those material signs which bring the cosmos into the liturgy", he said. "Although they are not a sacramental sign, they are nonetheless associated with prayer and the sanctification of Christian people". In fact, before imposing them on the heads of the faithful, the priest blesses the ashes, and one of the formulae he may use to do so refers to a passage from Genesis: "You are dust and to dust you shall return", the words with which God concludes His judgement after the original sin.

Because of that sin, God cursed the earth whence Adam had come. Indeed, following the creation of the world, God had "formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being". Thus, the Holy Father explained, "the sign of the ashes leads us into the great narrative of the creation in which, through the image of the dust of the earth moulded by God and animated by His breath, it is recounted that human beings are a unique combination of matter and divine breath. ... In the narrative of Genesis, we see how the symbol of dust undergoes a negative transformation because of sin. Before the fall, the earth had a potential which was entirely good", recalling "God's creative act which was entirely open to life". Following sin and the subsequent divine curse, "it became a sign of the inexorable destiny of death: 'You are dust and to dust you shall return'".

The earth, then, shares man's destiny and only concedes him its fruits in exchange for much "toil" and "the sweat of his brow". Nonetheless, "this curse of the earth has a medicinal function for man, whom the earth’s recalcitrance helps to maintain within his own limits, to recognise his own nature. ... This means that God's intentions, which are always benign, are more profound that any curse. The curse, in fact, was due not to God but to sin; yet God could not but inflict it because He respects man's freedom and its consequences, even its negative consequences". However the Lord, along with "just punishment, also wished to announce the way of salvation, which passed by way of the earth, by way of that 'dust', that 'flesh' which was assumed by the Word".

The liturgy of Ash Wednesday uses the words of Genesis in this perspective of salvation, "as an invitation to penance and humility, to remember our own mortality; not so as to give way to desperation but to accept, as part of that mortality, the inconceivable closeness of God Who, beyond death, opens the way to resurrection, to heaven finally and ultimately rediscovered".

"The possibility we have for divine forgiveness essentially depends on the fact that God Himself, in the person of His Son, chose to share our condition, but not the corruption of sin. God caused His Son to rise again with the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the new Adam, became ... the first fruit of the new creation".

"The God Who drove our first ancestors from the Garden of Eden", Benedict XVI affirmed in conclusion, "sent His Son to our earth devastated by sin, ... so that we, prodigal children, might return to our true homeland, penitent and redeemed by His mercy. Thus may it be for each of us, for all believers, for all men and women who humbly recognise their need for salvation".


Vatican City, 23 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Holy Father met with pastors and priests of the diocese of Rome. The audience took the form of a "lectio divina" by the Pope on a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. The event came to an end with the Our Father and the apostolic blessing.


Vatican City, 23 February 2012 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 11 a.m. on Sunday 26 February Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, will take possession of the diaconate of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio, Largo Nostra Signora di Coromoto 2, Rome.


Vatican City, 23 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Calcutta, India, presented by Archbishop Lucas Sirkar S.D.B., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Thomas D'Souza.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Vatican City, 22 February 2012 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning, the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to the subject of Lent (which begins today, Ash Wednesday), the period of forty days leading up to the Easter Triduum, memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Benedict XVI reminded the 7,500 pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall that, in the early days of the Church, Lent was a time in which catechumens began their journey of faith and conversion prior to receiving Baptism. Later, all the faithful were invited to participate in this period of spiritual renewal. Thus "the participation of the whole community in the various stages of the Lenten journey underlines an important dimension of Christian spirituality: the fact that redemption is available not just for the few, but for everyone, thanks to Christ's death and resurrection".

"The time leading up to Easter is a time of 'metanoia', a time of change and penance, a time which identifies our human lives and our entire history as a process of conversion, which begins to move now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time".

The Church calls this period "Quadragesima", a period of forty days which has precise references in Holy Scripture. Indeed, "forty is the symbolic number with which the Old and New Testaments represent the most important moments of the People of God's experience of faith. It is a figure which expresses a time of expectation, purification, return to the Lord, awareness that God is faithful to His promises; ... a time within which we must make our choice, shoulder our responsibilities without further delay. It is a time for mature decisions".

Noah spent forty days in the Ark during the Flood, then had to wait forty days more before he could return to dry land. Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai to collect the Commandments. The Jewish People spent forty years wandering in the desert, then enjoyed forty years of peace under the government of the Judges. The inhabitants of Niniveh made forty days penance to obtain God's forgiveness. The reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the first kings of Israel, lasted forty years each. In the New Testament, Jesus spent forty days praying in the wilderness before beginning His public life and, following the resurrection, He spent forty days instructing His disciples before ascending to heaven.

The liturgy of Lent, the Pope explained, "has the aim of facilitating our journey of spiritual renewal in the light of this long biblical experience. Above all, it helps us to imitate Jesus Who, in the forty days He spent in the wilderness, taught us to overcome temptation through the Word of God. ... Jesus went into the wilderness in order to be in profound contact with the Father. This was a constant aspect of Christ's earthly life. He always sought out moments of solitude to pray to His Father and abide in intimate and exclusive communion with Him, before retuning among mankind. But in the 'wilderness' ... Jesus was beset by temptation and the seduction of the Evil One, who suggested a messianic path, a path which was far from God's plans because it involved power, success and dominion, not love and the total gift of self on the Cross".

Benedict XVI went on to suggest that the Church herself is a pilgrim in the "wilderness" of the world and history. This wilderness is made up of "the aridity and poverty of words, life and values, of secularism and the culture of materialism which enclose people within a worldly horizon and detach them from any reference to transcendence. In such an atmosphere the sky above us is dark, because veiled with clouds of selfishness, misunderstanding and deceit. Nonetheless, even for the Church today, the wilderness can become a period of grace, because we have the certainty that even from the hardest rock God can cause the living water to gush forth, water which quenches thirst and restores strength".

"During Lent", said the Holy Father in conclusion, "may we discover fresh courage to accept situations of difficulty, affliction and suffering with patience and faith, aware that, from the darkness, the Lord will cause a new day to shine forth. And if we have been faithful to Jesus, following Him on the way of the Cross, the luminous world of God, the world of light, truth and joy, will be ours again".

At the end of the catechesis Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in various languages. Speaking Polish he highlighted how "fasting and prayer, penance and works of mercy" are the principal means of preparation for Easter.

The Pope also addressed a special greeting to faithful of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who were present in the Paul VI Hall. The ordinariate was set up a little over a year ago for groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wishing to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. The general audience ended with the apostolic blessing.


Vatican City, 22 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent. The theme for the 2012 campaign is: "Health spreads over all the earth".

In his Message the Pope recalls how the purpose of the campaign is "to arouse a greater fraternal and community spirit in caring for the sick, and to invite society to ensure that everyone has access to the means necessary for a healthy life".

The biblical theme of the campaign - taken from Ecclesiasticus - reminds Christians that health goes beyond bodily well-being. When Jesus healed the paralytic, before causing the man to walk again, He forgave him his sins, "showing us that the perfect cure is the forgiveness of sin, Health par excellence is health of the soul, 'for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?' In fact, in Latin the words for 'health' and 'salvation' have their roots in the same term, and in the Gospel the activity of the Saviour of mankind is associated with many episodes of healing".

Benedict XVI expresses his hope that the campaign "may arouse increasingly profound solidarity with sick people in the hearts of the faithful, and of all people of good will. The sick often suffer more through solitude and abandonment than through their infirmity. We must remember the Jesus identified Himself with them: 'I was sick and you took care of me'. At the same time we must help them discover that, although sickness is a difficult trial, it can also, in union with the crucified and risen Christ, be a form of participation in the mystery of Jesus' suffering for the salvation of the world. Indeed, 'by offering our pain to God through Christ, we can share in the victory of good over evil, because God makes our offering, our act of love, fruitful'".

The Pope concludes his Message by invoking the intercession of Our lady of Aparecida, that the Lord may grant everyone, and especially the sick, "comfort and strength in accomplishing the duties specific to their individual, family or social condition, that these may become a source of health and progress in Brazil, making it fertile in sanctity, economically prosperous, even-handed in the distribution of wealth, joyful in public service, equitable in power and fraternal in development".


Vatican City, 22 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Jacinto Furtado de Brito Sobrinho of Crateus, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Teresina (area 26,495, population 1,195,000, Catholics 1,018,000, priests 118, permanent deacons 19, religious 203), Brazil.

- Appointed Fr. Olivier de Germay of the clergy of the archdiocese of Toulouse, France, episcopal vicar and pastor of the "ensemble paroissial" of Bauzelle, as bishop of Ajaccio (area 8,722, population 275,000, Catholics 256,000, priests 75, permanent deacons 16, religious 69), France. The bishop-elect was born in Tours, France in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1998. He frequented a military academy before going to study at the French seminary in Rome. He has worked in pastoral care and as professor of sacramental and family theology at the "Institut Catholique" of Toulouse.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Palmerston North, New Zealand, presented by Bishop Peter James Cullinane, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Charles Drennan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Vatican City, 21 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released this morning by the Holy See Press Office concerning the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

"This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., met with Marcial Rubio Correa, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP).

"The secretary of State made reference to the assiduous and generous commitment shown by various members of the university in the formation of students, and the broad range of disciplines the PUCP offers to young people. Cardinal Bertone then informed Mr. Rubio Correa of the conclusions the Holy See has reached following intense dialogue and numerous meetings over the course of many years between the current grand chancellor, his predecessors and the university, and following the apostolic visit made to the university from 5 to 11 December 2011 by Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.

"Those conclusions took particular account of the outcome of the apostolic visit and of the proposal presented by the rector at the end of that visit.

"The cardinal secretary of State informed Mr. Rubio Correa of the Holy See’s request that the statutes of the PUCP be regularised as soon as possible, adapting them to the Apostolic Constitution 'Ex Corde Ecclesiae' for the good of the PUCP itself and of the Church in Peru. Given the evident importance of safeguarding the Catholic identity of the university, the cardinal secretary of State requested that the competent academic authorities present the statutes for approval by Easter Sunday, 8 April, with the amendments indicated to the university on 16 July 2011.

"Finally, Cardinal Bertone expressed the hope that the academic community would accept these indications, so that the PUCP may increasingly dedicate itself to its mission of offering young people a solid formation, rooted in faithfulness to the Magisterium, as a guarantee of the great contribution the university is called to make to the country".


Vatican City, 21 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. George A. Sheltz of the clergy of the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., vicar general, chancellor and moderator of the Curia, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 23,257, population 5,811,010, Catholics 1,146,908, priests 427, permanent deacons 357, religious 687). The bishop-elect was born in Houston in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971. He has served as pastor of various parishes of his diocese, and as director of the Secretariat for Clergy and Chaplains.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Vatican City, 20 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the twenty-two new cardinals created in the recent consistory, accompanied by members of their families and other faithful who had come with them to Rome. The Pope spoke to each group in its own language, concluding with some words in Italian addressed to them as a whole.

Speaking French he said that "our society, which experiences moments of uncertainty and doubt, has need of Christ's clarity. May each Christian bear witness with faith and courage, and may the imminent period of Lent favour a return towards God".

Turning then to address the groups as a whole, the Holy Father highlighted how the creation of new cardinals "is an opportunity to reflect upon the universal mission of the Church in the history of man. In human affairs, which are often agitated and confused, the Church is always alive and present, bringing Christ: light and hope for all humankind. Remaining united to the Church and to the message of salvation she bears, means anchoring ourselves in truth, reinforcing a sense of true values, remaining serene whatever happens.

"I exhort you, then", the Pope added in conclusion, "always to remain united to your pastors, and to the new cardinals, in order to be in communion with the Church. Unity in the Church is a divine gift which must be defended and developed. I entrust you, dear brother cardinals, and the faithful accompanying you, to the protection of the Mother of God and of the Apostles Peter and Paul".


Vatican City, 19 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the twenty-two cardinals created in yesterday's consistory. At the beginning of the ceremony, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, addressed a greeting to the Pope in the name of all the new cardinals.

Extracts from the Holy Father's homily are given below:

"In the second reading that we have just heard, St. Peter exhorts the “elders” of the Church to be zealous pastors, attentive to the flock of Christ. These words are addressed in the first instance to you. ... The new dignity that has been conferred upon you is intended to show appreciation for the faithful labour you have carried out in the Lord’s vineyard, to honour the communities and nations from which you come and which you represent so worthily in the Church, to invest you with new and more important ecclesial responsibilities and finally to ask of you an additional readiness to be of service to Christ and to the entire Christian community. This readiness to serve the Gospel is firmly founded upon the certitude of faith".

"Today’s Gospel passage presents Peter, under divine inspiration, expressing his own firm faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. In response to this transparent profession of faith, which Peter makes in the name of the other Apostles as well, Christ reveals to him the mission He intends to entrust to him, namely that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built. ... This Gospel episode ... finds a further and more eloquent explanation in one of the most famous artistic treasures of this Vatican Basilica: the altar of the Chair. After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. ... It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.

"The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where He comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital “O”, to shine through her - the One from Whom she comes and to Whom she leads. The Church is the place where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards Him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.

"The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be St. Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. St. Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission".

"The chair of Peter evokes another memory: the famous expression from St. Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, where he says of the Church of Rome that she “presides in charity”. In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith. ... The word “charity”, in fact, was also used by the early Church to indicate the Eucharist. ... Therefore, to “preside in charity” is to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace - the embrace of Christ - which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences. The Petrine ministry is therefore a primacy of love in the Eucharistic sense, that is to say solicitude for the universal communion of the Church in Christ. And the Eucharist is the shape and the measure of this communion, a guarantee that it will remain faithful to the criterion of the tradition of the faith.

"The great Chair is supported by the Fathers of the Church". They "represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the holy and one Church. This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys Him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the Sacraments, the liturgy, evangelisation, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith. The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it. ... The Sacred Scriptures, authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium in the light of the Fathers, shed light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history.

"After considering the various elements of the altar of the Chair, let us take a look at it in its entirety. We see that it is characterised by a twofold movement: ascending and descending. This is the reciprocity between faith and love. ... A selfish faith would be an unreal faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist, discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift. True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love, leads on high, just as the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica. ... God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light".

"The gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives. This is your task in particular, dear brother cardinals: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love".


Vatican City, 19 February 2012 (VIS) - Following this morning's concelebration of the Eucharist with the twenty-two cardinals created in Saturday's consistory, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Before the Marian prayer, the Holy Father reminded people that "this Sunday is a particularly joyful one here in the Vatican, because of yesterday's consistory in which I created twenty-two new cardinals. This morning I had the joy of concelebrating the Eucharist with them in St. Peter's Basilica, over the tomb of the Apostle whom Jesus called to be the 'rock' upon which to build His Church. I therefore invite you all to pray for these our venerable brothers, who are now more deeply committed to collaborating with me in guiding the universal Church, and to bearing witness to the Gospel even unto the sacrifice of their lives. This is the significance of their red garments: the colour of blood and of love".

Benedict XVI also recalled the fact that yesterday's consistory took place against the backdrop of the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter, which had been brought forward to this Sunday to ensure it did not coincide with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The cathedra, the Pope explained, "is the seat reserved for the bishop. ... The Cathedra of St. Peter ... is the symbol of the special mission that Peter and his successors have to feed the flock of Christ and to keep it united in faith and charity. ... This particular duty devolves upon the community of Rome and its Bishop because it was in this city that the Apostles Peter and Paul spilt their blood, along with many other martyrs. Thus we return to the witness of blood and charity. The Cathedra of Peter is a sign of authority: the authority of Christ which is founded upon faith and love".

In conclusion, the Holy Father entrusted the new cardinals to the protection of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church, that she might "help me and my collaborators to work tirelessly for the unity of the People of God, and to announce the message of salvation to all people, humbly and courageously performing the service of truth in charity".


Vatican City, 20 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Timothy Costelloe S.D.B., auxiliary of Melbourne, Australia, as archbishop of Perth (area 427,377, population 1,681,142, Catholics 415,633, priests 266, permanent deacons 15, religious 615), Australia. He succeeds Archbishop Barry James Hickey, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Dresden - Meissen, Germany, presented by Bishop Joachim Friedrich Reinelt, upon having reached the age limit.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 10.30 a.m. this morning, Benedict XVI celebrated the fourth ordinary public consistory of his pontificate, during which he created twenty-two new cardinals.

Following the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced his homily, extracts of which are given below:

"'Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam'. ... With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public consistory. ... They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter - the Rock - in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God".

"The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. ... In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, Who for love of Christ gave Himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice will be an example".

"It is with this meaning that the placing of the red biretta is also to be understood. The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for His Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the colour of their robes. Furthermore, they are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs. They are to be eminent servants of the Church that finds in Peter the visible foundation of unity.

"In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed there is offered a model to imitate and to follow. ... Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world".

Today's Gospel reading in which James and John asked Christ to be allowed to sit with Him in His glory, one on His right and one on His left, "gives Jesus a way to address each of the disciples and 'to call them to Himself', almost to pull them in, to form them into one indivisible body with Him, and to indicate which is the path to real glory, that of God: 'You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all'.

"Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: He does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but He lives it in His own flesh. He explains, in fact, 'For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many'. These words shed light upon today’s public Consistory with a particular intensity. They resound in the depths of the soul and represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.

"According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the One Who receives power and dominion from God. Jesus interprets His mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering servant, described in Isaiah. ... His service is realised in total faithfulness and complete responsibility towards mankind. In this way the free acceptance of His violent death becomes the price of freedom for many, it becomes the beginning and the foundation of the redemption of each person and of the entire human race.

"Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals, may Christ’s total gift of self on the Cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity. May your mission in the Church and the world always be 'in Christ' alone, responding to His logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord. On the ring which I will soon place on your finger, are represented Sts. Peter and Paul, and in the middle a star which evokes the Mother of God. Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two Apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful. The example of the Virgin Mother will always be for you an invitation to follow her who was strong in faith and a humble servant of the Lord".

"Dear brothers and sisters, pray that [the new cardinals'] lives will always reflect the Lord Jesus, our sole Shepherd and Teacher, Source of every hope, Who points out the path to everyone. And pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand".

Following his homily the Pope pronounced the the formula of creation of the new cardinals, their names and the diaconate or presbyteral order to which they have been assigned. The new cardinals then recited the Creed and swore their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors. They then received their biretta and ring from the hands of the Pope who also assigned them their title or diaconate.

Following the ceremony Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, introduced the ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay catechist and martyr; Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and of the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord; Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching; Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A.; Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman, and Anna Schaffer, German laywoman. The Holy Father has decreed that the canonisation ceremony will take place on Sunday 21 October. The consistory concluded with the apostolic blessing.


Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Following are the names of the twenty-two new cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI in this morning's consistory, and the titular or diaconate churches he assigned to them:


- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, diaconate of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio.

- Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman.

- Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, diaconate of San Ponziano.

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, diaconate of San Cesareo in Palatio.

- Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, diaconate of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia.

- Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.

- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, diaconate of Sant’Elena fuori Porta Prenestina.

- Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, diaconate of San Sebastiano al Palatino.

- Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, diaconate of Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina.

- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, diaconate of Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio.

- Cardinal George Alencherry, title of San Bernardo alle Terme.

- Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, title of San Patrizio.

- Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., title of Santi Marcellino e Pietro.

- Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, title of San Callisto.

- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, title of San Marcello.

- Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, title of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario.

- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, title of San Giovanni Maria Vianney.

- Cardinal John Tong Hon, title of Regina Apostolorum.

Non electors:

- Cardinal Lucian Muresan, title of Sant’Atanasio.

- Cardinal Julien Ries, diaconate of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia.

- Cardinal Prosper Grech, O.S.A., diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti.

- Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J., diaconate of San Giuliano Martire.


Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - With the creation of twenty-two new cardinals in this morning's consistory, the College of Cardinals now has 213 members of whom 125, being under the age of eighty, are eligible to vote in an eventual conclave for the election of a new Pope. The non electors, that is cardinals over the age of eighty and ineligible to vote in a conclave, now number 88.

Benedict XVI has created eighty-four cardinals in the four consistories of his pontificate.

The current members of the College of Cardinals come from seventy-one States, distributed as follows: Europe 119, North America (U.S.A. and Canada) 21, Latin America 32, Africa 17, Asia 20 and Oceania 4.


Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released yesterday evening by the Holy See Press Office at the end of the day of reflection and prayer which brought together the members of the College of Cardinals in preparation for today's consistory.

"This afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers, the cardinals present continued to make their contributions. Counting both the morning and afternoon sessions, a total of twenty-seven talks were given, touching upon a wide range of subjects associated with new evangelisation and the Year of Faith.

"Attention was given to the problems of evangelisation in various parts of the world and in different cultures: The increasing numbers of Christians in China despite difficulties; inter-religious dialogue and the struggle against poverty in India; the trials faced by Christians in the countries of the Middle East; the importance of popular religiosity for evangelisation in Latin America; the challenge of secularism which tends to marginalise religion from social life in the West; challenges and difficulties as well as encouraging prospects and events that are signs of hope, such as new and vivacious ecclesiastical experiences like World Youth Days and International Eucharistic Congresses.

"Discussion also focused on the educational emergency, the renewal of catechesis, the transmission of faith to young people, the formation of evangelisers (lay people, religious and priests), and the importance of a mature faith capable of witness and discernment before the realities of today's world.

"Suggestions were made for the forthcoming Year of Faith. These included in-depth analyses to accompany the various periods of the liturgical year, encouraging pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Rome, and favouring new forms of popular mission.

"Emphasis was given to the ecumenical commitment of Christians in announcing their shared faith in Christ, the validity of Vatican Council II as a compass to guide the Church's journey today, the importance of bearing witness to Christian joy and sanctity, and the enduring fascination of the saints.

"Before praying the Angelus at around 7 p.m., the Holy Father concluded the session with some words of his own. He thanked the relators", cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Fisichella, "and all the participants. Their words had represented a 'broad mosaic of ideas and proposals', he said. The Pope also highlighted the importance Vatican Council II has for "rediscovering of the contemporary importance of Jesus and the faith". He underlined the need for an authentic renewal of catechesis in order to highlight its precious content of truth, and to react against what has been defined as 'religious illiteracy'. He reaffirmed the need for profound conviction of the truth of God's revelation in His Son Jesus Christ, because 'if there is no truth, we have no compass and do not know where to go', and 'only if there is truth can life be rich and beautiful". Without this conviction, 'we cannot re-evangelise humankind today'.

"Since God is love, truth is expressed in charity, and charity in turn "reveals the truth". The Pope concluded by saying that the motto of the Year of Faith could be summarised in the words: 'Living truth in charity'".


Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Christopher Glancy C.S.V., pastor of the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Corozal, Belize, as auxiliary of the diocese of Belize City - Belmopan (area 22,965, population 307,899, Catholics 152,718, priests 32, permanent deacons 4, religious 93), Belize. The bishop-elect was born in Moline, U.S.A. in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1993. He worked in pastoral care and vocational ministry in the U.S.A., before moving to Belize in 1998.


Città del Vaticano, 18 febbraio 2012 (VIS). Il Santo Padre ha nominato il Padre Christopher Glancy, C.S.V., Vescovo Ausiliare della Diocesi di Belize City-Belmopan (superficie: 22.965; popolazione: 307.899; cattolici: 152.718; sacerdoti: 32; religiosi: 93; diaconi permanenti: 4), Belize. Il Vescovo eletto è nato nel 1960 a Moline, (Stati Uniti d'America). Ha pronunciato i voti perpetui nell'Istituto dei Chierici di San Victor ed è stato ordinato sacerdote nel 1993. Dal 1993 al 1994 è stato Vicario parrocchiale nella Parrocchia "Maternity of the Blessed Virigin Mary" a Kankakee; dal 1994 al 1998: Ministero vocazionale e membro del Consiglio provinciale del suo Istituto; dal 1998 al 2002

Vicario parrocchiale nella Parrocchia "St. Francis Xavier Parish, Corozal, (Belize) e dal 2002 è Parroco della suddetta parrocchia.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - We inform our readers that tomorrow Saturday 18 February, the Vatican Information Service will issue a special bulletin for the occasion of the ordinary public consistory during which the Holy Father will appoint twenty-two new cardinals.


Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning, in preparation for tomorrow's consistory, the members of the College of Cardinals and the new cardinals-elect met in the Vatican's New Synod Hall for a day of reflection and prayer, presided by the Holy Father. Benedict XVI had called the day at the beginning of this month.

According to a communique made public today by the Holy See Press Office, the Day began with the celebration of Lauds, followed by an introductory address by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. The main theme of the day - "the announcement of the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelisation" - was introduced with a long talk by one of the cardinals-designate: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. He was followed by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, who delivered a report on the forthcoming Year of Faith, and its significance in the light of the Apostolic Letter 'Porta fidei'. He also outlined a series of initiatives for the Year, currently being studied by various dicasteries.

The participants in the day of reflection and prayer then rose to speak and the morning session concluded with the praying of the Angelus guided by the Holy Father. The meeting will continue this afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers at 5 p.m.


Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a telegram, in the name of the Holy Father, to Bishop Roberto Camilleri O.F.M. of Comayagua, Honduras, for the fire which broke out in the city prison on 15 February, causing the deaths of 355 people and injuring scores of others. The text of the telegram is given below:

"His Holiness Benedict XVI, deeply saddened by the painful news of the conflagration in the 'Granja Penal' of Comayagua, which caused so many victims, raises fervent prayers to the Almighty for the eternal repose of the dead. At the same time, I ask Your Excellency to communicate the Pope's deepest condolences to the families of the deceased, accompanied by assurances of his spiritual closeness and his hope that those injured in this lamentable incident will make a speedy and complete recovery. With these sentiments the Supreme Pontiff, while invoking the loving protect of Our Lady of Suyapa, affectionately imparts the comfort on an apostolic blessing as a sign of consolation and hope at this time of distress. Giving assurances of my own prayers for everyone affected by the tragedy, I take this opportunity to assure you of my fraternal affection".


Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - On 13 February Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, participated in the Fourth Session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

"With other States and the various actors of the international community, the Holy See shares the view that the principal objective of the Treaty should not be merely the regulation of the conventional arms trade but should be, above all, the disarming of the international illicit market", said the archbishop speaking English.

"An unregulated and non-transparent arms trade due to the absence on the international level of effective monitoring systems causes a series of humanitarian consequences: integral human development is retarded, the risk of instability and conflict is heightened, the process of peace is placed at risk and the spread of a culture of violence and criminality is facilitated. Responsible action, shared by all the members of the international community, is necessary to resolve such problematic realities. This includes States and international organisations, NGOs and the private sector".

"The international community requires a strong, effective and credible legal instrument that is capable of regulating and improving transparency in the trade of conventional arms and munitions, including the trading and licensing of technologies for their production".

As a guarantee of this, Archbishop Chullikatt identified five aspects to be taken into consideration:

"(1) The scope of the ATT should be broad, comprising not solely the seven categories of arms which the UN Register of Conventional Arms considers, but also small arms and light weapons, together with their relevant munitions".

"(2) The criteria for application of the Treaty must maintain reference to human rights, humanitarian law and development. These are the three areas in which the impact of the illicit market in arms is particularly pernicious".

"(3) The capacity for the success of the Treaty will depend also on its ability to promote and reinforce international cooperation and assistance between States".

"(4) Provisions relating to assistance for victims must be maintained and, if possible, strengthened, giving attention also to the prevention of illicit arms proliferation, by reducing the demand for arms which often feeds the illicit market. It seems opportune, from this perspective, then, to introduce references in the Treaty to educative processes and public awareness programmes".

"(5) Mechanisms for treaty review and updating need to be strong and credible, capable of quickly incorporating new developments in the subject matter of the ATT, which must remain open to future technological developments".

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father visited the Major Seminary of Rome for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust, which falls on Saturday. The Holy Father visited the chapel before going on to meet with auxiliary bishops of Rome, superiors of diocesan seminaries and 190 seminarians.

Following the reading of the Gospel, Benedict XVI pronounced a "lectio divina" on the passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans in which the Apostle invites the faithful not to conform to this world but to transform themselves and renew their minds in order to discern the will of God, "the good and acceptable and perfect".

"We can reflect upon the Church today", he said in his off-the-cuff remarks. "There is much talk about the Church of Rome, many things are said. Let us hope that people also talk about our faith. Let us pray to God that it may be so".

The Pope then went on to refer to the force of evil which, in today's world, also emerges "in two great powers which are good and useful in themselves but easily open to abuse: the power of finance and the power of the media. Both are necessary, both are useful, but so subject to misuse that they often go against their true goals".

Today "we see how the world of finance can dominate mankind. Possession and appearance dominate and enslave the world. ... Finance is no longer a tool to promote well being and to support the life of man, but a force that oppresses him, one which almost has to be worshipped". The Pontiff called on his audience not to conform to this power. "Be non conformists. What counts is not possession but existence", he said. Christians must not bow to this power, but use it as "as a means, with the freedom of the children of God".

Turning then to consider the question of public opinion, Benedict XVI highlighted how "we have a great need of information, knowledge about the truth of the world; but there is a power of appearance which in the end counts even more than reality itself". Appearance "overlies the truth and becomes more important. Man no longer pursues the truth but wants above all to appear". Here too "there is a Christian non conformism. ... We want not appearance but truth, and this will give us true freedom".

"Christian non conformism redeems us and restores us to truth. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to be free in this non conformism, which is not against the world but is authentic love for the world".


Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received participants in the Second Symposium of European and African Bishops, which began on 13 February and is examining the theme of "Evangelisation today: pastoral communion and cooperation between Africa and Europe". The event will come to an end tomorrow with a pilgrimage to the Italian shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.

"For the Church in Europe", the Pope said, "the encounter with the Church in Africa is always a moment of grace, because of the hope and joy with which ecclesial communities in Africa live and communicate their faith. ... Moreover, it is a pleasure to see how the Church in Africa, though experiencing so many difficulties and having such need of peace and reconciliation, is open to sharing her faith".

In the relationship between the two Churches, bishops must "take account of the fundamental bond between faith and charity, because these two aspects illuminate one another in their truth. Charity favours openness towards modern men and women in their concrete reality, in order to bring them to Christ and His love for each individual and each family, especially those who are poor and alone".

The Holy Father also turned his attention to the difficulties facing the prelates, including religious indifference "which causes many people to live as if God did not exist, or to make do with a vague religiosity incapable of measuring up against the question of truth or the requirement to be coherent". In the same context he also mentioned "the influence of a secularised environment often hostile to Christian faith" and "hedonism which has helped to make the crisis of values penetrate into daily life". Another symptom of "serious social malaise is the spread of pornography and prostitution". However, "these things must not discourage you", he told the bishops. "Rather, they should be a reason for renewed commitment and hope; the hope that arises from the awareness that ... the risen Christ is always with us".

Benedict XVI reiterated the central role the family plays in pastoral care, because it is "the firmest guarantee for the renewal of society. The family conserves usages, traditions, customs and rites impregnated with faith, and is fertile terrain in which vocations can flower". In this context he invited the participants in the symposium "to pay particular attention to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

"The family is also the forge of youth", the Pope added. "Europe and Africa have need of young people who are generous, who can take responsibility for their own future. At the same time, all the institutions must be aware that young people are the keys to the future and that everything must be done to ensure their journey is not hindered by uncertainty and darkness".

"The cultural dimension is also important in the formation of young people", the Holy Father went on. "The Church respects all discoveries of truth, because all truth comes from God, but she knows that the gaze of faith fixed upon Christ opens man's mind and heart to the First Truth, which is God. Thus culture nourished by faith leads to authentic humanisation, while false cultures end up by leading to dehumanisation: we have seen sad examples of this in Europe and in Africa".

Pope Benedict concluded his remarks: "Your symposium has given you the chance to reflect upon the problems of the Church on the two continents. Certainly there is no lack of difficulties, and some of them are great; yet they are also proof that the Church is alive, that she is growing and is unafraid to carry out her evangelising mission. To do this, she needs the prayer and commitment of all the faithful. ... As pastors, however, you have a particular responsibility. ... The moral authority and the prestige that uphold the exercise of your juridical power can only come from the holiness of your life".


Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See met in the Vatican on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 February under the presidency of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Governorate of Vatican City State, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and Vatican Radio. Reports were read out concerning the consolidated budget of the Holy See and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and the gathering was addressed by Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

According to a communique released this morning, the cardinals present intervened, "expressing their pleasure at the forecast results but not failing to make known their concern at the prevailing general crises, which has not spared even the general economic system of the Vatican. This is evident above all as regards the Holy See, which receives indispensable subsidisation from the free offerings of the faithful. The members of the Council expressed their profound gratitude for the support the faithful give, often anonymously, to the universal ministry of the Holy Father, and exhorted them to continue this good work. Moreover, it was recognised that there is an ongoing commitment to improve the administration of the goods and resources of the Holy See".


Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Budiarman Barar, the new ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- Daniel Edgardo Ramada Piendibene, the new ambassador of Uruguay to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio to Argentina.

- Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany.


Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Luciano Russo as apostolic nuncio to Rwanda.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - For the second consecutive week the Holy Father focused his catechesis during his general audience on Jesus' prayer before dying, basing his remarks on three phrases Christ pronounced from the cross, as narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of some 6,000 pilgrims from all over the world.

Jesus' first phrase: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing", was pronounced as soon as He had been crucified and while the soldiers were dividing His garments. "This first prayer to the Father", the Pope explained, "was a request to forgive His executioners". At the same time, however, "it is an interpretation of what is happening. The men who crucified Him 'do not know what they are doing'. In other words, Christ presents ignorance, 'not knowing', as a reason for requesting forgiveness of the Father, because that ignorance opens the way to conversion".

The second phrase: "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise", addressed to the "good thief" crucified at Christ's side, is "a word of hope", the Holy Father said. Jesus thereby reaffirmed "that God's goodness can touch us even in the final instant of existence, and that sincere prayer, even after a misspent life, encounters the open arms of the good Father Who awaits the return of His child".

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", the last words Christ pronounced, are "a prayer of 'entrustment', full of faith in God's love. Jesus' prayer before dying is as dramatic as its is for all men and women but, at the same time, it is pervaded by that profound calm which arises from faith in the Father and the desire to entrust oneself to Him completely".

"When life was about to leave Him, He sealed His final decision in a prayer. Jesus allowed Himself to be consigned 'into human hands', but it was into the hands of the Father that He placed His spirit. Thus, as John the Evangelist says, all things were accomplished, the supreme act of love was carried to the end".

"Jesus' words on the cross in the final instants of His earthly existence provide binding guidelines for our own prayer, but they also open the way to serene trust and firm hope. By asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying Him, Jesus invites us to make the difficult gesture of praying for the people who do us wrong, ... that the light of God may illuminate their hearts. In other words, He invites us to adopt, in our prayer, the same attitude of mercy and love which God shows towards us", the Pope said.

"At the same time Jesus, at the extreme moment of death, entrusted Himself entirely into the hands of God the Father, communicating to us the certainty that, however difficult our trials ... or burdensome our suffering, we will never fall out of God’s hands, the hands which created us, and which support and accompany us on life’s journey".


Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - "In today's social environment, families with many children are witnesses of faith, courage and optimism, because without children there is no future". The Pope addressed these words to representatives from the Italian National Association of Large Families who were attending his general audience this morning. "I hope", Benedict XVI went on, "that adequate social and legislative measures will continue to be promoted to support and protect larger families, who are a source of wealth and hope for the entire country".

Speaking to young people and the sick, Benedict XVI recalled the fact that yesterday marked the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who spread the faith among Slavic peoples. "May their witness also help you to be apostles of the Gospel, the leaven for authentic renewal in personal, family and social life", he said.

The general audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the apostolic blessing.


Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language joint communique of the Holy See and the government of the United Kingdom concerning an official ministerial visit marking the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two States. The delegation, led by Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and was received by Pope Benedict XVI.

The communique states that the "Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government agreed on the urgent need for action to strengthen the universal commitment to religious freedom as a fundamental human right, and to its practical application with a view to promoting respect for all religions in all countries. The Holy See and the British government look forward to working together to combat intolerance and discrimination based on religion, wherever it is manifest.

"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government reaffirmed the need to promote integral and sustainable global development, based on the centrality of the human person and grounded in the principle of the inherent human dignity and worth of each person. Much progress has been made over the last decade in improving health and well-being for many people. However, there are still significant gaps and challenges in the long and complex path towards ensuring integral human development for everybody. Too many people are still hungry, too many people do not have access to education and to decent work, too many women die in childbirth. In view of these challenges we recognise a shared obligation to achieve a fair international financial and trade framework. And we will strive for a better future for all humanity, taking into particular account care for the poorest people in the world.

"Looking ahead to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio de Janeiro in June this year and to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change implementation process, we share the conviction that in order to take forward a human-centred and sustainable global development, there is a need to continue to strengthen the integration of its interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars: the economic, the social and the environmental, as well as the connection between combating poverty and tackling climate change.

"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government share a commitment to work at the United Nations and other fora to strengthen the international focus on conflict prevention, disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, aimed at protecting human life and building a world more respectful of human dignity. As part of this effort, we look forward to positive outcomes in July to the final negotiations to agree upon a robust Arms Trade Treaty with a wide scope, and to the 2nd Review Conference of the UN Programme on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

"With regard to the changes which have occurred in North Africa and the Middle East, the Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government stressed the importance of undertaking real reforms in the political, economic and social realms, in order better to ensure the unity and development of each nation, in responding positively to the legitimate aspirations of many people for peace and stability. In this context, reference was made to the role which Christians can play and to the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government expressed the hope for a resumption of negotiations in good faith between Israelis and Palestinians so as to bring about a lasting peace. They renewed their appeal for an immediate end to violence in Syria and stressed the need for co-operation to overcome the present crisis and work towards a harmonious and united coexistence.

"As the London Conference on Somalia approaches, the Holy See and the British Government encourage the international community to support a coherent strategy on Somalia in order to end the crisis there, placing as a priority the protection and welfare of the people of the Horn of Africa.

"Her Majesty’s Government welcomed His Holiness Pope Benedict’s support for the ongoing process of reconciliation in Northern Ireland, the establishment of stable, inclusive political institutions, and efforts to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for all parts of the community. Her Majesty’s Government and the Holy See agreed that the use of violence for political ends is deplorable, and must be set aside in favour of constructive dialogue for the well-being of the whole community.

"As the United Kingdom prepares to host the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both sides look forward to a year characterised by the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Truce: at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

"There was in addition a good exchange of views on a wide range of social, economic, political and cultural issues, including on developing the UK’s collaboration with the Vatican Museums. Both sides recognised in particular the role of faith and education in the development of a culture of social responsibility and the underpinning of a healthy society. In this context, appreciation was expressed for the significant contribution which the Catholic Church, and Christians in general, have made and continue to make to the good of British society. The Holy See emphasised the need to ensure that institutions connected with the Catholic Church can act in accordance with their own principles and convictions and stressed the necessity of safeguarding the family based on marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Both sides look forward to further strengthening their relationship by working together through their respective networks and global partnerships, including the Commonwealth of Nations, to promote the common good".

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