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

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Friday, March 31, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Bruno Grua of the clergy of Digne, France, pastor and member of the episcopal council, as bishop of Saint-Flour (area 5,726, population 151,600, Catholics 145,600, priests 127, permanent deacons 4, religious 172), France. The bishop-elect was born in Lyon, France in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971.

 - Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, as apostolic nuncio to Pakistan.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2006 (VIS) - In the Paul VI Hall yesterday evening, the film "Karol, un Papa rimasto uomo" (Karol, a Pope Who Remained a Man) was screened in the presence of the Holy Father. The film, by the Italian director Giacomo Battiato, recounts the second part of the life of John Paul II, the first part having been narrated in an earlier film, "Karol un uomo diventato Papa" (Karol, a Man Who Became Pope), screened in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of Benedict XVI in May 2005, shortly after the death of John Paul II.

  After the showing of the made-for-television film, the Pope expressed his thanks to Giacomo Battiato and his collaborators, including the actor Piotr Adamczyk who plays the role of John Paul II, for the "knowledge and talent" with which they presented "the central moments of the apostolic ministry of my venerated predecessor."

  "With this second episode of the film, the story of the earthly life of the beloved Pontiff comes to an end," said the Pope. "Once again we heard the opening appeal of his pontificate, which sounded out so often down the years: 'Open the doors to Christ! Do not be afraid!' The ensuing images showed us a Pope immersed in contact with God and, for this very reason, ever sensitive to the expectations of mankind. The film caused us to reconsider his apostolic journeys all over the world; it gave us the opportunity to relive his meetings with so many people, with the great ones of the earth and with ordinary citizens, with illustrious figures and with unknown individuals. Among all these, special mention should be made of his embrace with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, united to John Paul II by an intimate spiritual harmony. Horrified as if we were present, we reheard the shots of the tragic attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

  "From all this," Pope Benedict went on, "emerged the figure of a tireless prophet of hope and peace, who travelled the roads of the earth to communicate the Gospel to everyone. His vibrant words returned to our minds, condemning totalitarian regimes, murderous violence and war; words full of consolation and hope expressing his closeness to the relatives of victims of conflict and dramatic terrorist attacks, such as that against the Twin Towers in New York; courageous words of denunciation towards consumer society and hedonistic culture which aims to create a purely material wellbeing that cannot satisfy the profound needs of the human heart."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Felix Kouadjo of Bondoukou.

    - Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Gagnoa.

    - Bishop Maurice Konan Kouassi of Daloa.

    - Bishop Joseph Niangoran Teky of Man.

    - Bishop Barthelemy Djabla of San Pedro-en-Cote-d'Ivoire

    - Archbishop Marie-Daniel Dadiet of Korhogo.

    - Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for April is: "That the individual, social and political rights of women may be respected in every nation."

  His mission intention is: "That the Church in China may carry out its evangelizing mission serenely and in full freedom."
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Thursday, March 30, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences eight prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ake.

    - Bishop Paul Dacoury-Tabley of Grande-Bassam.

    - Bishop Laurent Akran Mandjo of Yopougon.

    - Archbishop Vital Komenan Yao of Bouake, accompanied by Coadjutor Archbishop Paul-Simeon Ahouanan Djro O.F.M., apostolic administrator of Yamoussoukro.

    - Bishop Jean-Jacques Koffi Oi Koffi of Abengourou, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Bruno Kouame.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present a seminar on the Bologna Process. The seminar, organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education in collaboration with UNESCO-CEPES, is being held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall from March 30 to April 1.

  In his contribution Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, explained how canon law distinguishes between ecclesiastical universities and faculties, and Catholic universities and faculties, "although it would be more accurate to say that they are all Catholic, and that those Catholic universities and faculties we call ecclesiastical have a particular role and specific regulations."

  Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, under-secretary of the same congregation, recalled how the Holy See "adhered to the Bologna Process on the occasion of the ministerial summit held in Berlin in 2003. Since then, the Congregation for Catholic Education has followed the various stages of the process ... with the help of a specially-created commission, which assists ecclesiastical faculties in Europe to implement the relative guidelines."

  For his part, Archbishop Michael J. Miller C.S.B., secretary of the congregation, explained the program of the seminar, which has as its theme: "The cultural heritage and academic values of European universities, and the attraction of European institutions of higher education."

  Representatives from 42 countries are due to attend the meeting, said the archbishop, "most of them from Europe, but also from the Americas, Asia and the East." They include "ministers of education from the various countries, government officials, university rectors and representatives from European and international organizations."

  Among the themes to be debated during the seminar, the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education highlighted the following: "European cultural heritage: identity and challenges. ... The academic values and contemporary significance of European universities. ... European universities: their cultural responsibility and role in the construction of Europe." Discussion groups will also tackle such subjects as: "fundamental values and academic freedom; foundations for interdisciplinary dialogue; inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue; and scientific research and ethical responsibility." The seminar will conclude on Saturday with a papal audience.

  Next to speak was Jan Sadlak, director of UNESCO's European Center for Higher Education (CEPES). Speaking English, he affirmed that Europe could be proud of its diversity, the source of inspiration in so many fields: "culture, ethnicity, and also religion. ... In order to preserve and nourish those various diversities we must have a solid set of values and core of common goals which can preserve us from those forces which brought to Europe two world wars and various kinds of totalitarian regimes. And here we need to point out the role of the university which, in its modern form, is a European creation with almost a thousand-year history in which the Roman Catholic Church has played an important role. This needs to be recognized."

  The last to speak was Sjur Bergan, head of the Department of Higher Education and History Teaching at the Council of Europe. "The topic of this conference," he said, "is essentially how our academic heritage and values make European higher education attractive both for our own students and for students and higher education partners in other parts of the world."

  He mentioned the four main purposes of higher education, as identified by the Council of Europe: "preparation for the labor market; preparation for life as active citizens in democratic societies; personal development; and the development and maintenance of a broad, advanced knowledge base." Highlighting the inadequacy of a purely economic evaluation of the advantages of higher education he added: "Academic heritage is of great importance to the Bologna Process both because of its intrinsic value and because it provides us with a broader perspective on higher education reform. Reform is part and parcel of our heritage: the universities, along with the Church and the parliament, are the oldest continuously existing institutions in Europe. I think it is important to underline that universities have survived precisely because they have been able to reform. Had they not been able to change, they would not have survived."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is due to be celebrated on May 7, fourth Sunday of Easter, on the theme: "Vocation in the mystery of the Church."

  "The weight of two millennia of history makes it difficult to perceive the novelty of the fascinating mystery of divine adoption which lies at the center of St. Paul's teaching," writes the Holy Father in his Message, which is dated March 5. "We are called to live as brothers and sisters of Christ, to consider ourselves as sons and daughters of the same Father. This a gift that overturns all exclusively human ideas and projects."

  "What, then, must we say," Benedict XVI asks, "of the temptation, so strongly felt in our own time, to think ourselves so self-sufficient as to shut ourselves off from the mysterious plan God has for us? The love of the Father, revealed in the person of Christ, calls out to us."

  Down the centuries, the Pope writes, many men and women, "transformed by divine love, have consecrated their lives to the cause of the Kingdom," and "through Christ have known the mystery of the Father's love." These people, the Pope goes on, "represent the multiplicity of vocations that have always been present in the Church."

  Referring then to Vatican Council II's universal call to sanctity, the Holy Father affirms that, in each generation, Christ "calls individuals to take care of His people; in particular He calls men to the priestly ministry to exercise a paternal function. ... The priest's mission in the Church is irreplaceable. Therefore, even though some areas suffer a shortage of clergy, we must not lose the conviction that Christ continues to call men" to the priesthood.

  "Another special vocation occupying a place of honor in the Church is the call to consecrated life. ... Although they undertake various forms of service in the field of human formation and care for the poor, in education and in assistance to the sick, [consecrated people] do not consider these activities as the principle aim of their lives because, as the Code of Canon Law says: 'Contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer is to be the first and foremost duty of all religious'."

  Benedict XVI concludes his Message with a call to pray "for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. ... The Church's sanctity depends essentially on her union with Christ and her openness to the mystery of grace at work in the hearts of believers. For this reason, I would like to invite all the faithful to cultivate an intimate relationship with Christ, Master and Pastor of His people, imitating Mary who guarded the divine mysteries in her heart and contemplated them assiduously."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group of representatives from the European parliamentary group of the Popular Party on the occasion of the Study Days on Europe, an initiative organized by the group.

  The Pope began his English-language address to the parliamentarians by recalling how "Roman Pontiffs have always devoted particular attention to this continent; today's audience is a case in point, and it takes its place in the long series of meetings between my predecessors and political movements of Christian inspiration."

  "At present, Europe has to address complex issues of great importance, such as the growth and development of European integration, the increasingly precise definition of neighborhood policy within the Union and the debate over its social model. In order to attain these goals, it will be important to draw inspiration, with creative fidelity, from the Christian heritage which has made such a particular contribution to forging the identity of this continent.

  "By valuing its Christian roots," said the Holy Father, "Europe will be able to give a secure direction to the choices of its citizens and peoples, it will strengthen their awareness of belonging to a common civilization and it will nourish the commitment of all to address the challenges of the present for the sake of a better future."

  The Pope then expressed his appreciation for the Popular Party's "recognition of Europe's Christian heritage" which, he said, "offers valuable ethical guidelines in the search for a social model that responds adequately to the demands of an already globalized economy, ... assuring growth and employment, protection of the family, equal opportunities for education of the young and solicitude for the poor.

  "Your support for the Christian heritage, moreover, can contribute significantly to the defeat of a culture that is now fairly widespread in Europe, which relegates to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one's own religious convictions. Policies built on this foundation not only entail the repudiation of Christianity's public role; more generally, they exclude engagement with Europe's religious tradition, which is so clear, despite its denominational variations, thereby threatening democracy itself, whose strength depends on the values that it promotes."

  To oppose or ignore the European Christian tradition "would be a sign of immaturity, if not indeed weakness. ... In this context one has to recognize that a certain secular intransigence shows itself to be the enemy of tolerance and of a sound secular vision of State and society."

  The Pope then expressed his pleasure "that the European Union's constitutional treaty envisages a structured and ongoing relationship with religious communities, recognizing their identity and their specific contribution. Above all, I trust that the effective and correct implementation of this relationship will start now, with the cooperation of all political movements irrespective of party alignments.

  "It must not be forgotten," he stressed, "that when Churches or ecclesial communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or interference, since such interventions are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest."

  The main area of the Catholic Church's interventions in the public sphere, said Benedict XVI, "is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable." Among these principles he listed: "Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage, and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; and the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

  "These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church's action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, irrespective of any religious affiliation they may have."

  The Holy Father closed his address by calling on the parliamentarians "to be credible and consistent witnesses of these basic truths through your political activity, and more fundamentally through your commitment to live authentic and consistent lives."
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 29, 2006 (VIS) - In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 40,000 people, Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on the relationship between Christ and the Church in the light of the experience of the Apostles and the task with which they were entrusted.

  "Through the apostolic ministry," said the Pope. "the Church, the community brought together by the Son of God, ... will live through the ages, building and nourishing the communion in Christ and in the Spirit to which everyone is called and in which everyone can experience the salvation given by the Father.

  "Indeed, the twelve Apostles were careful to provide successors so that the mission entrusted to them would continue after their death. Thus over the centuries the Church, organically structured under the guidance of her legitimate pastors, has continued to live in the world as a mystery of communion which in some way reflects Trinitarian communion itself."

  The Holy Father then explained how "the idea of communion as participation in Trinitarian life" is particularly highlighted in the Gospel of St. John, "where the communion of love binding the Son to the Father and to mankind is at the same time the model and source of the fraternal communion which must unite disciples to one another."

  "During their earthly pilgrimage," Pope Benedict continued, "disciples, through their communion with the Son, can already participate in His divine life and in that of the Father. ... This life of communion, both with God and among ourselves, is the ultimate aim of the announcement of the Good News."

  "Communion, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is nourished by the Eucharistic bread and expressed through fraternal relations, a kind of anticipation of future glory. ... It is the gift that lifts us out of our solitude and brings us to participate in the love that unites us to God and with one another. It is easy to understand how great this gift is if we only think of the fragmentation and conflicts afflicting relations between individuals, groups and entire peoples."

  The Holy Father concluded: "Communion truly is the good news that remedies all forms of solitude, the precious gift that makes us feel welcomed and loved in God, in the unity of His people gathered in the name of the Trinity; it is the light that makes the Church shine out as a sign raised among peoples."
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, a press conference will be held to present a forthcoming seminar on the Bologna Process. The seminar has been organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education in collaboration with UNESCO-CEPES, and will be held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall from March 30 to April 1.

  The Bologna Process began in 1998 when, on the 700th anniversary of the foundation of the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, ministers of education from Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy prepared a joint document calling on the entire European Union to create "a European space for higher education." The following year, 1999, ministers from 29 countries meeting in the Italian city of Bologna, also home to one of the earliest European universities, signed a political declaration of intent.

  Thursday's press conference will be attended by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Michael J. Miller C.S.B. and Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same congregation, and Jan Sadlak, director of UNESCO-CEPES.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2006 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 5.30 p.m. on Monday, April 3, Benedict XVI will preside at a Mass marking the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

  At 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, a year to the day after the late pontiff's demise, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar general for the diocese of Rome, will preside at the recitation of the Rosary in St. Peter's Square. Following the recitation, the Holy Father will greet those present from the window of his private study.
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Monday, March 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI received the 15 new cardinals created in the consistory of March 24, accompanied by members of their families and pilgrims.

  The Pope greeted those presented in the languages of the newly-created cardinals: Italian, English, French, Spanish, Slovene and Polish.

  Addressing Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J., the Holy Father thanked him for his "fruitful exegetic labors in studying the Word of God, and the patient transmission of this knowledge to numerous generations of young people, providing them with the means to live by and be witnesses to the Gospel. May everyone regularly dedicate time to nourish themselves from Holy Scripture."

  To the newly-elected Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain, Benedict XVI said "your people distinguish themselves for their faithfulness to Peter's Successor and their devotion to the Virgin Mary. May she always be the star that guides your particular Churches in the work of evangelization."

  In greeting Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, the Pope thanked him "for all the years spent alongside John Paul II and for everything this service brought to the Universal Church. I pray that your own future ministry will prove equally fruitful."

  The Pope spoke to the newly-elected cardinals of the need he felt for their collaboration, adding that "the meetings of the entire College of Cardinals with Peter's Successor, such as that of last Thursday, will continue as privileged moments to seek together how best to serve the Church, entrusted by Christ to our care."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, following his morning visit to the Roman parish of God the Merciful Father, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, among them many who came to Rome in the company of their bishops who were elevated to the rank of cardinal in Friday's consistory.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled how the recent consistory, in which he created 15 new cardinals, "was an intense ecclesial experience that enabled us to taste the spiritual wealth of collegiality, finding ourselves together among brothers from different backgrounds, all united in a single love for Christ and His Church."

  The Holy Father continued: "In some way, we relived the situation of the first Christian community, united around Peter and Mary Mother of Jesus to welcome the gift of the Spirit and undertake to spread the Gospel throughout world. Faithfulness to this mission even unto the sacrifice of their lives is a distinctive characteristic of cardinals, as their oath testifies and as symbolized by the red they wear, the color of blood."

  By a "providential coincidence," said the Pope, the day of the consistory, March 24, coincided with "the commemoration of missionaries who, over the past year, have died on the frontiers of evangelization and service to man in various parts of the earth. Thus, the consistory provided an opportunity for us to feel closer than ever to those Christians who suffer persecution because of their faith. Their witness, of which news reaches us every day, and especially the sacrifice of those killed, edifies and encourages us to an ever more sincere and generous evangelical commitment.

  "I am thinking particularly," he added, "of those communities living in countries where religious freedom is lacking or where, despite its affirmation in theory, in practice it suffers many restrictions. To all those communities I send warm encouragement to carry on in the patience and charity of Christ, seed of the Kingdom of God to come." Benedict XVI also expressed "solidarity in the name of the entire Church" and "daily recollection in my prayers" to those who work in the service of the Gospel under such difficult conditions.

  "The Church marches forwards in history and spreads over the earth accompanied by Mary, Queen of the Apostles," the Pope concluded. "We ask her to guide us on our daily journey and to protect with special concern those Christian communities undergoing the greatest difficulty and suffering."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the Holy Father visited the parish of God the Merciful Father in the eastern area of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated the Eucharist.

  At the beginning of his homily the Pope recalled that today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, "traditionally known as 'Laetare,' is permeated with a joy that to some extent attenuates the penitential climate of this holy time." One reason for this, he said, "is the closeness of Easter," but the "deeper reason," as today's readings show, is "that despite our unworthiness we are the recipients of God's infinite mercy."

  "It is the Cross, then, that must always, but especially in this time of Lent, be at the center of our meditations. ... It is the glory of Christ crucified that all Christians are called to contemplate, experience and bear witness to with their lives. The Cross is the definitive 'sign,' ... given us that we might understand the truth of man and the truth of God: we were all created and redeemed by a God Who, out of love, sacrificed His only Son."

  "Jesus died and rose again," the Pope exclaimed. "In Him we are able to understand the truth of life and obtain salvation. This is the Church's central message, unchanged over the centuries. Thus, Christian faith is not an ideology but a personal encounter with the crucified and risen Christ. From this, which is at once an individual and a community experience, arises a new way of thinking and acting, it is the beginning, as the saints show, of a life marked by love."

  Referring to the parish in which he was speaking, Benedict XVI recalled how its creation was due to "my beloved predecessor John Paul II in memory of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and in order to effectively condense the significance of that extraordinary spiritual event."

  The Pope then went on to read out part of a text due to have been pronounced by John Paul II on April 3 last year, Divine Mercy Sunday and the second Sunday of Easter: "To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of His love that pardons, reconciles and opens the soul to hope. It is love that converts hearts and brings peace. ... How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!" These handwritten words, said Benedict XVI "are like a last will and testament."

  "Understanding and welcoming the merciful love of God: let this be your task, above all within your families and in all areas of the neighborhood."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on the faithful to continue to strive to ensure the parish becomes "a true family where day after day faithfulness to the word of God and to the Tradition of the Church become a rule for life." Referring then to the "original architectural structure" of the church building which attracts many sightseers, the Pope asked the faithful to ensure that visitors "appreciate not only the beauty of the sacred building, but above all the richness of a living community, that bears witness to the love of God the Merciful Father."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, Canada, presented by Archbishop Peter Alfred Sutton O.M.I., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie O.M.I.

 - Appointed Fr. Philip Banchong Chaiyara C.Ss.R., director of the Redemptorist Fathers' Center at Pattaya and pastor of the church of St. Nikolaus, as bishop of Ubon Ratchathani (area 53,917, population 7,921,117, Catholics 25,750, priests 42, religious 175), Thailand. The bishop-elect was born in Chang Ming, Thailand, in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Bishop Michael Bunluen Mansap, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Carlos Pellegrin Barrera S.V.D., rector of the Divine Word School in Santiago de Chile, as bishop of Chillan (area 12,461, population 436,002, Catholics 300,841, priests 52, permanent deacons 28, religious 104), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago de Chile, in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Bishop Alberto Jara Franzoy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Elenito Reyes Galido of the clergy of the diocese of Malaybalay, Philippines, vicar general, as bishop of Iligan (area 3,092, population 1,338,000, Catholics 1,029,000, priests 84, religious 108), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Managok, Philippines, in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979.

 - Appointed Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, apostolic nuncio to New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Vanuatu, and apostolic delegate to the Pacific Ocean, as apostolic nuncio to the Cook Islands.

 - Appointed Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations due to be held in Ariano Irpino, Italy on May 20, to mark the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Liberatore.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration to journalists today:

  "Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, in the name of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, has written a letter to Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, regarding the fate of the Christian convert Abdul Rahman, who is risking the death penalty.

  "The letter, which bears the date of March 22, states that the Pope's appeal is inspired by 'profound human compassion,' by 'firm belief in the dignity of human life and by respect for every person's freedom of conscience and religion.'

  "Cardinal Sodano goes on: 'I am certain, Mr. President, that dropping the case against Mr. Rahman would bestow great honor upon the Afghan people and would raise a chorus of admiration in the international community. It would then contribute in a most significant way to our common mission to foster mutual understanding and respect among the world's different religions and cultures."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced today that at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Helena fuori Porta Prenestina in Via Casilina 205, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the new cardinals created in yesterday's consistory, during which he presented them with their ring of office, "a sign of dignity, pastoral solicitude and ever stronger communion with the See of Peter."

  After the Gospel reading, the Pope pronounced his homily which he began by recalling how the celebration coincided with the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in which, he said, "we recognize the origins of the Church."

  "Everything began from there," he added. "Every historical achievement of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God."

  Later in his homily, the Holy Father dwelt on the word "beloved," with which the Archangel Gabriel addressed the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. "Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture. It is a title expressed in passive form, but this 'passivity' of Mary ... implies her free consent. ... In being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her."

  Referring then to the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, which explained how Christ came into the world to fulfil the will of the Father, the Pope affirmed that the mystery of the double 'yes' to God from Christ and from the Virgin must illuminate the lives of the ministers of the Church, and support the cardinals in their mission as the "Senate of Peter's Successor."

  "Today's event," the Pope said, "emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other, Marian, principle which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in keeping with his motto 'Totus tuus'."

  "Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors, is 'included' under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her 'yes' to God's will. ... The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also to be found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you. The ring is always a nuptial sign. ... [It is] a reminder to you that first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church, ... which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse. So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfillment of each."

  "Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain," said Pope Benedict who went on to recall how the Virgin, after receiving the Angel's message, went to her cousin Elizabeth "'in order to be of service to her.' ... Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbor.

  "Here we have the image and model of the Church," the Holy Father concluded. "Every ecclesial community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God Who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch my pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a 'community of love'."

  After his homily, the Pope presented each new cardinal with his ring of office.

  Following the ceremony, the Holy Father went to the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, where he had lunch with the members of the College of Cardinals.
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Friday, March 24, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2006 (VIS) - Following are the names of the 15 new cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI in this morning's consistory as well as the titular or diaconate churches he assigned to them:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: diaconate of St. Mary in Domnica.

 - Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: diaconate of St. Francis Xavier at Garbatella.

 - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: diaconate of St. Peter Damian ai Monti di San Paolo.

 - Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela: title of St. Mary ai Monti.

 - Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales, archbishop of Manila, Philippines: title of the Most Holy Name of Mary in Via Latina.

 - Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France: title of St. Augustine.

 - Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain: title of St. Pancras.

 - Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk, archbishop of Seoul, Korea: title of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes at Boccea.

- Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A.: title of St. Mary della Vittoria.

 - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz archbishop of Krakow, Poland: title of St. Mary del Popolo.

- Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy: title of St. John the Baptist of the Florentines.

 - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China: title of St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer at Tor Bella Monaca.

- Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls: diaconate of St. Mary in Portico.

 - Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana: diaconate of St. Helena fuori Porta Prenestina.

 - Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J., formerly rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: diaconate of St. Mary of Mercy and St. Adrian at Villa Albani.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2006 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square this morning, Benedict XVI celebrated his first Ordinary Public Consistory, during which he created 15 new cardinals who come from eleven different countries.

  Following the opening liturgical greeting, the Holy Father read the formula of creation and solemnly proclaimed the names of the new cardinals. The first of them, Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then thanked the Pope in the name of all the others.

  After a Gospel reading, the Holy Father pronounced his homily.

  He highlighted how the Ordinary Public Consistory eloquently expresses "the universal nature of the Church, which has spread to every corner of the world in order to proclaim to all people the Good News of Christ our Savior."

  After recalling that John Paul II celebrated nine consistories, the Pope pointed out that although "down the centuries the College of Cardinals has changed in many ways, nevertheless the substance and essential nature of this important ecclesial body remain unaltered."

  "Total and generous availability to serve others is the distinctive mark of those in positions of authority in the Church," he added.

  "The first 'servant of the servants of God'," said Benedict XVI quoting the definition of St. Gregory the Great, "is Jesus. After him, and united with him, come the Apostles; and among these, in a particular way, Peter. ... The Pope must be the first to make himself the servant of all."

  Turning to address the new cardinals, the Pope highlighted how, "more closely linked to the Successor of Peter, you will be called to work together with him in accomplishing his particular ecclesial service, and this will mean for you a more intense participation in the mystery of the Cross as you share in the sufferings of Christ."

  The word "caritas," theme of his recent Encyclical, best summarized the significance of their call as cardinals, said the Pope. "May the scarlet that you now wear always express the 'caritas Christi,' inspiring you to a passionate love for Christ, for His Church and for all humanity. You now have an additional motive to seek to rekindle in yourselves those same sentiments that led the incarnate Son of God to pour out His blood in atonement for the sins of the whole world.

  "I am counting on you, venerable brothers, I am counting on the entire College into which you are being incorporated, to proclaim to the world that 'Deus caritas est,' and to do so above all through the witness of sincere communion among Christians."

  "I am counting on you to ensure that the principle of love will spread far and wide, and will give new life to the Church at every level of her hierarchy, in every group of the faithful, in every religious institute, in every spiritual, apostolic or humanitarian initiative."

  He concluded: "I am counting on you to see to it that our common endeavor to fix our gaze on Christ's open Heart will hasten and secure our path towards the full unity of Christians. I am counting on you to see to it that the Church's solicitude for the poor and needy challenges the world with a powerful statement on the civilization of love. All this I see symbolized in the scarlet with which you are now invested. May it truly be a symbol of ardent Christian love shining forth in your lives."

  At the end of the homily the new cardinals made the profession of faith before the people of God, swearing their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors.

  One by one, in the order in which they were created, the new cardinals then came and knelt before the Holy Father who imposed the red "biretta" or hat and assigned them a titular or diaconate church in Rome as a sign of their participation in the Pope's pastoral concern for the city.

  The Pope gave each new cardinal his Bull of Creation and exchanged an embrace of peace with them. The cardinals then exchanged the same embrace with each other

  The celebration concluded with the prayer of the faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced today that at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Mary in Domnica in Via della Navicella 10, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the speech given by Msgr. Renato Volante, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), during the 28th session of the FAO Conference for the Near East, which was held in San'a, Yemen from March 12 to 16.

  In his English-language address, Msgr. Volante emphasized the need for rural development and food production in order to guarantee food security to all mankind, recalling the Holy See's particular sensitivity "to the question of fighting poverty, hunger and malnutrition." The Holy See, he went on, "confirms the availability of the Catholic Church and her various sectors and institutions to cooperate" in this field. This support should be considered "not only as a possibility of logistical support, but also as a source of ideal and programmatic inspiration."

  He concluded: "In guaranteeing to every person the possibility of having a qualitative standard of life and adequate food security, we participate in the great design of Creation and we have the chance to put common values before individual interests. International relations today, following the desire of all people to peaceful coexistence, require new forms of solidarity and communion in the implementation of programs and action, according to the fundamental principles of humanity and justice."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2006 (VIS) - The day of reflection and prayer held yesterday in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of the members of the College of Cardinals, focussed, in keeping with the wishes of Benedict XVI, on four main subjects, according to a Holy See Press Office communique made public today.

  The first subject, raised by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, concerned the mission of bishops emeritus within the Church. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," introduced the second subject: the efforts made to favor the ecclesial communion of the members of "Fraternity of St. Pius X."

  After the morning session, the cardinals resumed their work at 5 p.m. by considering the third question on the agenda: post-conciliar liturgical reform and the use of the Missal of St. Pius V, presented by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  The fourth topic, introduced by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, concerned the Catholic Church's position towards Islam today.

  Various other cardinals also contributed opinions on these subjects before the Holy Father brought the meeting to an end at around 7 p.m.
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Thursday, March 23, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Erected the new diocese of Jashpur (area 5,838, population 739,780, Catholics 185,485, priests 155, religious 347) India, with territory taken from the diocese of Raigarh, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Raipur. He appointed Bishop Victor Kindo of Raigarh as first bishop of the new diocese.

 - Appointed Msgr. Paul Toppo, vicar general of Raigarh, India, as bishop of the same diocese (area 7,072, population 1,265,084, Catholics 56,640, priests 51, religious 92). The bishop-elect was born in Garla, India in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1988.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2006 (VIS) - A day of reflection and prayer, called by the Pope prior to tomorrow's consistory, began at 9.30 a.m. today in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of the members of the College of Cardinals.

  At the beginning of the meeting Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked Benedict XVI in the name of all those present for having called them to this day of prayer as an encouragement "to joint action more in keeping with the pastoral challenges of the present time".

  Today's meeting, he said, "shows the importance Your Holiness attributes to the College of Cardinals. For our part, we undertake to abide by the mission the Church expects from us".

  In his brief address, Cardinal Sodano recalled how the cardinals help the Pope "both when gathered collegially, and when acting individually within the Roman Curia". In this context, he stressed the "complementarity" between the two consultative bodies at the disposal of the Roman Pontiff: the Synod, created following Vatican Council II, and the College of Cardinals.

  "Your Holiness," he concluded, "will now inform us of the themes upon which you wish to hear our opinion and to take counsel. As dean, it is also my honor to extend to you the devoted greetings of all members of the College of Cardinals who are absent because of urgent appointments or through reasons of health - such as Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus - and who are present in spirit".

  During the meeting there will be free discussions and exchanges of opinion among the participants, in a manner similar to the congregations of cardinals prior to last year's conclave, which were presided over by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals.

  The day of reflection and prayer, which will continue this afternoon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is being held before tomorrow's Ordinary Public Consistory during which the Holy Father will create 15 new cardinals.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - In the wake of media comments concerning one of the Pope's titles - that of "Patriarch of the West" - which did not appear among the list of papal titles at the beginning of this year's edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" (pontifical yearbook), the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued a communique clarifying the reasons for the omission.

  "From a historical perspective," the communique reads, "the ancient Patriarchates of the East, defined by the Councils of Constantinople (381) and of Chalcedon (451), covered a fairly clearly demarcated territory. At the same time, the territory of the see of the Bishop of Rome remained somewhat vague. In the East, under the ecclesiastical imperial system of Justinian (527-565), alongside the four Eastern Patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), the Pope was included as the Patriarch of the West. Rome, on the other hand, favored the idea of the three Petrine episcopal sees: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. Without using the title 'Patriarch of the West,' the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870), the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Florence (1439), listed the Pope as the first of the then five Patriarchs.

  "The title 'Patriarch of the West' was adopted in the year 642 by Pope Theodore. Thereafter it appeared only occasionally and did not have a clear meaning. It flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the context of a general increase in the Pope's titles, and appeared for the first time in the 'Annuario Pontificio' in 1863."

  The term 'West' currently refers to a cultural context not limited only to Western Europe but including North America, Australia and New Zealand, thus differentiating itself from other cultural contexts, says the communique. "If we wished to give the term 'West' a meaning applicable to ecclesiastical juridical language, it could be understood only in reference to the Latin Church." In this way, the title "Patriarch of the West," would describe the Bishop of Rome's special relationship with the Latin Church, and his special jurisdiction over her.

  "The title 'Patriarch of the West,' never very clear, over history has become obsolete and practically unusable. It seems pointless, then, to insist on maintaining it. Even more so now that the Catholic Church, with Vatican Council II, has found, in the form of episcopal conferences and their international meetings, the canonical structure best suited to the needs of the Latin Church today."

  The communique concludes: "Abandoning the title of 'Patriarch of the West' clearly does not alter in any way the recognition of the ancient patriarchal Churches, so solemnly declared by Vatican Council II. ... The renouncement of this title aims to express a historical and theological reality, and at the same time, ... could prove useful to ecumenical dialogue."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that Friday, March 24, is World TB Day, an annual United Nations initiative to combat tuberculosis.

  This is, said the Holy Father, "an appropriate occasion to call for renewed commitment at the global level, that the necessary resources may be made available to cure our sick brothers and sisters, who often also live in situations of great poverty. I encourage the initiatives of assistance and solidarity towards them, hoping that they may always be guaranteed dignified conditions of life."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 35,000 faithful, Benedict XVI continued the catechesis he began last week on the calling and the mission of the Apostles.

  "St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians," said the Pope, "presents the Church as a structure 'built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.' ... The Gospels all agree in recounting that the call of the Apostles marked the first steps of Jesus' ministry."

  The Holy Father went on to consider this call in the various gospel accounts. St. Mark and St. Matthew place the scene at the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus called the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John to be "fishers of men." For his part, St. Luke dwells on the miraculous catch of fish, "a symbol of their mission as fishers of men. The destiny of those 'called' will, from now on, be intimately linked to that of Jesus. The Apostle is an envoy, but prior to that he is an 'expert' on Jesus."

  For St. John, the meeting took place on the banks of the River Jordan and "and throws light on [the Apostles'] spiritual world. They were men awaiting the Kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah Whose coming had been announced as imminent. And John the Baptist's identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God was sufficient to arouse in them the desire for a personal meeting with the Master."

  "Thus the Apostles' adventure began as an encounter between people who opened to one another," said Benedict XVI. "The disciples began to have a direct knowledge of the Master. Indeed, more than proclaiming an idea, they will be witnesses to the person of Christ. And before being sent to evangelize, they will have to 'be' with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with Him. On this basis, evangelization will be nothing other than the announcement of what they experienced and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ."

  Although Christ appears to limit the Apostles' mission to Israel alone when He says "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," in reality, the Pope explained, these words must be seen in the context of Israel as a "community of the covenant. According to messianic expectation, the divine promises will be fulfilled when God Himself, through His Chosen One, gathers His people together, like a shepherd his flock."

  "Jesus is the eschatological shepherd Who gathers the lost sheep of the house of Israel and goes out to seek them, because He knows and loves them. By this 'gathering,' the Kingdom of God is announced to all people." After Jesus' passion and resurrection, the Pope concluded, "the universal nature of the Apostles' mission became explicit. Christ will send the Apostles 'into all the world,' to 'all nations,' and 'to the end of the earth'."
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza, Argentina, as member of the Special Council for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2006 (VIS) - On Friday, March 24, Benedict XVI will celebrate his first Ordinary Public Consistory, during which he will create 15 new cardinals. Including the newcomers the College of Cardinals will, on that day, have 193 members of whom 120, those under the age of 80, enjoy the right to participate in a conclave for the election of a new Pope.

  Following Friday's consistory Europe will have 100 cardinals of whom 60 have the right to vote, while the Americas will have 52 cardinals (20 from North America and 32 from South America) with 36 electors. There will be 17 African cardinals with 9 electors, 20 Asian cardinals with 13 electors, and four cardinals from Oceania with 2 electors.

  Italy remains the country with the largest number of cardinals, 40 in all including three who will be created on March 24. It is followed by the United States with 15 cardinals , and by France and Spain with nine each.

  Friday's consistory will take place according to the new rite introduced at the consistory of June 28, 1991. After a liturgical greeting, the Holy Father will read the formula of creation and solemnly proclaim the names of the new cardinals. The first of the new cardinals, in the name of all the others, will address the Pope.

  Following the Liturgy of the Word, the Holy Father will deliver a homily. There will then be the profession of faith and taking of the oath by the new cardinals, the imposition of the red "biretta" or hat and assignment of the titular or diaconate church in Rome as a sign of participation in the Pope's pastoral concern for the city.

  The Holy Father will hand over the Bull of Creation as cardinal and that of assignment of titular or diaconate church, and exchange an embrace of peace with the new cardinals. The cardinals will then do the same with each other. The rite will conclude with the prayer of the Faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2006 (VIS) - This year's annual plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, due to be held on March 27 and 28, will be dedicated to the "Via pulchritudinis," in other words, to beauty as a way to evangelization and dialogue.

  "Alongside the traditional proofs for the existence of God - the five 'ways' - 'pulchrum' has also recently affirmed itself as a path to reach God, supreme beauty, and to transmit something of God's life to mankind, both through the wonder of nature and through artistic creation", reads a communique made public today by the pontifical council.

  "In a time distrustful of powerful truths, one that doubts the existence of universal goodness, beauty can be seen as a meeting place between people of different cultures, as the first stage on a journey that leads to the rediscovery of 'verum' and 'bonum'."

  The plenary assembly, which will be attended by cardinals, bishops, priests and lay people from the five continents, will consider three broad questions: the beauty of nature, the beauty of art, and the beauty of Christian sanctity. Starting from the basis of theological aesthetics, and in the wake of the great thinkers of the 20th century, attention will also be given to "the great challenges of the Church at the beginning of this century, the threats of a new laicism and of religious indifference; the mirage of beauty in sects and in new religious movements; the contemplation of creation and new debates concerning evolution and the protection of nature; the use of Christian artistic heritage with a view to the new evangelization; the beauty of the liturgy and, ultimately, sanctity."
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Monday, March 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Gerardo Rocconi, vicar general of the diocese of Senigallia, Italy, as bishop of Jesi (area 315, population 76,200, Catholics 74,400, priests 56, permanent deacons 8, religious 76), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Corinaldo, Italy in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Bishop Oscar Serfilippi O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday, March 18, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Serofia Palma of Calbayog, Philippines, as archbishop of Palo (area 4,620, population 1,603,000, Catholics 1,283,000, priests 144, religious 144), Philippines. The archbishop-elect was born in Dingle, Philippines in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1976 and consecrated a bishop in 1998. He succeeds Archbishop Pedro R. Dean, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Rodolfo Fontiveros Beltran, vicar general of the archdiocese of Tuguegarao, Philippines, as apostolic vicar of Bontoc-Lagawe (area 4,615, population 307,348, Catholics 202,754, priests 30, religious 23), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Gattaran-Cagayan, Philippines in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1976.

 - Elevated the "Missio sui iuris" of Kyrgyzstan to the rank of apostolic administration. At the same time, he appointed Fr. Nikolaus Messmer S.J., rector of the pre-seminary of the diocese of the Transfiguration at Novosibirsk, Russian Federation, as the first apostolic administrator of the new circumscription, elevating him to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1989.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Three prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Adalbert Ndzana of Mbalmayo.

    - Bishop Jerome Owono-Mimboe of Obala.

    - Bishop Raphael Marie Ze of Sangmelima.

  On Saturday, March 18, he received in separate audiences:

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

    - Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaounde.

    - Bishop Emmanuel Bushu of Yagoua.

    - Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala of Bafia, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Athanase Bala C.S.Sp.

    - Bishop Jean Mbarga of Ebolowa-Kribi.

 - Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2006 (VIS) - On Friday, March 24, at 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI will hold an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of 15 new cardinals, according to a note from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

  That same afternoon, from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. in various rooms of the Apostolic Palace, the new cardinals will receive all those who wish to pay them a courtesy visit. A list of these locations follows:

SALA REGIA: Cardinals William Joseph Levada and Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap.

HALL OF BLESSINGS: Cardinals Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Gaudencio B. Rosales, Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., Peter Poreku Dery, and Albert Vanhoye S.J.

SALA DUCALE: Cardinals Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo and Agostino Vallini.

SALA PARAMENTI 1: Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.

SALA PARAMENTI 2: Cardinal Franc Rode.

SALA PONTEFICI: Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

GALLERIA LAPIDARIA: Cardinals Jean-Pierre Ricard and Antonio Canizares Llovera.

  On Saturday, March 25, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father will preside at a concelebrated Mass with the new cardinals, during which he will give them the cardinal's ring.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Lebanon, accompanied by members of the patriarchal synod and by a group of pilgrims.

  In his address, the Pope recalled the history of the Armenian people over the centuries, in particular the suffering "they underwent in the name of the Christian faith during the years of terrible persecution, which remain enshrined in history with the sadly meaningful name of 'Metz Yeghern,' the great evil."

  Nonetheless, the Pope went on, "the Armenians, who have always sought to integrate themselves with hard work and dignity in the societies in which they found themselves, continue even today to bear witness to their faithfulness to the Gospel."

  After affirming that the Armenian-Catholic community is spread over many countries, the Pope said: "Providence placed the patriarchate of the Armenian Catholics in the Middle East, in Cilicia and, later, in Lebanon. All the Armenian-Catholic faithful look to that patriarchate as a solid point of spiritual reference for their centuries-old cultural and liturgical tradition."

  The Holy Father then indicated how "various Churches that recognize St. Gregory the Illuminator as their common founding father are divided from one another, although over the last few years they have resumed a cordial and fruitful dialogue with the aim of discovering their shared roots. I encourage this renewed fraternity and collaboration hoping that it may give rise to new initiatives for a joint journey towards full unity, ... with its own hierarchy, in fraternal interior harmony and full communion with the Bishop of Rome."

  "One comforting sign of this hoped-for unity was the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the foundation of the Armenian Church, with the participation of my beloved predecessor John Paul II."

  Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "We all wish to be instruments at the disposal of Christ. May He - Who is Way, Truth and Life - enable us to continue with all our strength, that, as soon as possible, there may be one flock with one pastor."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 19, 2006 (VIS) - During remarks prior to praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI dedicated his attention to the figure of St. Joseph, whose feast day is celebrated tomorrow.

  The Pope began by recalling John Paul II's devotion to St. Joseph "to whom he dedicated his Apostolic Exhortation 'Redemptoris Custos', Guardian of the Redeemer, and whose assistance he surely felt at the hour of his death." Benedict XVI then went on to explain the importance of the figure of Jesus' putative father in the history of salvation, beginning with his belonging to the tribe of Juda. This "united Jesus to the line of David" and ensured that the messianic promises were fulfilled in Him, as Matthew recounts in his Gospel when he describes the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt and the name of "Nazarene."

  "Like his wife Mary," the Holy Father continued, St. Joseph "showed himself to be the true heir of the faith of Abraham: faith in God Who guides the events of history according to His mysterious salvific plan." St. Joseph's greatness "is even more evident because his mission took place in the humility and obscurity of his house in Nazareth. Indeed, God Himself, in the Person of His Son incarnate, chose this way of life and this path in His earthly existence."

  St. Joseph's example presents us all with "a powerful invitation to perform the role that Providence has assigned us with faithfulness, simplicity and modesty. I am thinking above all of fathers and mothers in families, and I pray that they may always know how to appreciate the beauty of a simple and hard-working life, carefully cultivating their conjugal relationship and enthusiastically accomplishing the great, and by no means easy, mission of education."

  The Pope concluded his remarks by entrusting to St. Joseph "priests who exercise their paternity over ecclesial communities, ... consecrated people in their joyful and faithful observance of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience," and "workers of the entire world, that they may contribute with their various professions to the progress of humanity entire."

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that this year marks the fifth centenary of the Vatican Museums, which John Paul II defined as "one of the most important doors of the Holy See, open to the world." The museums offer, he said, "an important contribution to the mission of the Church, communicating Christian truths to millions of people through the language of art."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 19, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at a Mass for workers in remembrance of St. Joseph, whose feast day, March 19, will be celebrated tomorrow, Monday March 20, because this year it coincides with the third Sunday of Lent.

  Concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome; Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference; and Bishop Arrigo Miglio, president of the Italian episcopal commission for social and labor problems, for justice and peace. At the beginning of the ceremony, Bishop Miglio congratulated the Holy Father for his name day.

  In his homily, the Holy Father recalled how, according to the Bible, "work is part of the original condition of man," and forms part of "the divine plan." He went on: "The Son of God Himself, becoming like us in all respects, dedicated many years to manual labor, so much so that he became known as the 'carpenter's son'.

  "The Church has always shown, and especially over the last century, particular attention and solicitude to this aspect of society, as evinced by the many social initiatives of the Magisterium and the activity of many Christian-inspired associations, some of which are here today to represent the entire world of work."

  The Pope then highlighted the fact that "work is of primary importance for the fulfillment of mankind and the development of society, and for this reason it must always be organized and carried out in full respect of human dignity and at the service of the common good. At the same time it is indispensable that men and women do not let themselves be enslaved by work, that they do not idolize it, expecting to find therein the final and definitive meaning of life." In this context he affirmed that "biblical teaching on work finds its coronation in the commandment to rest."

  "Work must serve the true good of humanity," said the Holy Father. "To this end, technical and professional qualifications, necessary though they may be, are not enough. Nor is it enough to create a just social order attentive to the good of all. It is necessary to live a form of spirituality that helps believers to sanctify themselves through their own work, imitating St. Joseph who every day had to provide for the needs of the Holy Family with his own hands, and who for this reason is identified by the Church as the patron saint of workers. His witness shows how mankind is both the subject and protagonist of work."

  Benedict XVI concluded by entrusting to St. Joseph "those young people who find it difficult to enter the world of work, the unemployed, and all those who suffer due to the widespread labor crisis.

  "Together with his wife Mary, may St. Joseph watch over all workers and ensure serenity and peace for families and for all humanity. Looking to this great saint, may Christians in all working environments learn to bear witness to the love of Christ, source of true solidarity and of lasting peace."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy See is participating in the fourth World Water Forum, being held in Mexico City, Mexico from March 16 to 22. The forum, which meets every three years, is an initiative of the World Water Council, an organization that aims to raise public awareness to questions concerning water resources and to favor participation and dialogue among the many sectors concerned in order to influence political decisions and achieve sustainable development.

  In Mexico City, the Holy See will present a document updating an earlier text entitled "Water, an essential element for life," which was prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and presented at the third World Water Forum, held in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 2003. The original document started from the point that water plays a central and critical role in all aspects of life, and human development. It identified a human right to water, recognized the importance of water in religious traditions, and highlighted how both national governments and the international community must tackle the question of water in all its social, economic, political and environmental aspects.

  The updated document concentrates on the vital role of water in peace and security, recalling how many conflicts break out over the control of water resources and citing the examples of the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa, "which is intensifying ethnic tensions," and of the Middle East, "where the main problems with water are related to tensions among countries generated by water scarce environments." A later section of the document, entitled "a culture of water," warns that the action of wasting water in developed countries is morally unsustainable. "Citizens in some countries are used to taking advantage of a privileged situation without thinking to the consequences of their wasting water on the lives of their brothers and sisters in the rest of the world."

  The last two sections of the document are dedicated to the management of water resources and response to natural disasters. "Management decisions that impact the distribution of water," the text reads, "must also respond according to the criteria of justice. The human right to access to safe water and sanitation must be promoted in such a way that existing inequalities are reduced to the greater well-being of the least advantaged."

  As for natural disasters, the document recalls how they "are not solely caused by nature, but also by an inconsiderate use and consumption of the earth's resources," and suggests that poor countries, with the help of richer ones, "invest in mitigation measures to reduce the consequences of floods and droughts. ... But all such initiatives should be implemented with an active involvement of the local communities. They should be accurately informed of the impacts on the environment and on their lives of any infrastructure built with the aim of reducing vulnerability to natural disasters."

  "The human being is the center of the concern expressed in this updated document," the text concludes. "The primary objective of all efforts must be the well-being of those people - men, women, children, families, communities - who live in the poorest parts of the world and suffer most from any scarcity or misuse of water resources."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, accompanied by a group of Holy See representatives to international organizations.

  In his address to them, the Pope pointed out how the presence of the Holy See in international institutions makes "a fundamental contribution to the respect of human rights and the common good and, as a result, to true freedom and justice."

  "Relations between States and within States are just in so far as they respect the truth. When, however, the truth is offended, peace is threatened and rule of law is compromised, then, as a logical consequence, injustices arise."

  "These injustices can adopt many faces," said Benedict XVI. "For example, the face of disinterest or disorder, which can even go so far as to damage the structure of that founding cell of society that is the family; or perhaps the face of arrogance that can lead to abuse, silencing those without a voice or without the strength to make themselves heard, as happens in the case of today's gravest injustice, that which suppresses nascent human life."

  The Pope concluded by telling the Holy See representatives that through "difficulties and misunderstandings" they "participate authoritatively in the prophetic responsibility of the Church, which intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses."
AC/TRUTH:JUSTICE/SODANO                        VIS 20060320 (260)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit:

  Speaking to the bishops in French, the Pope encouraged them "to ensure that the Gospel penetrates deeply into your cultures and traditions - so marked by a wealth of human, spiritual and moral values - purifying those cultures, through the necessary conversion, from everything that opposes the fullness of truth."

  After highlighting how the unfavorable economic and social situation "weakens social ties and entails the loss of a series of traditional values such as the family, care for children and young people, and respect for the elderly," the Holy Father referred to other current challenges such as "the assault of sects and the havoc wrought by AIDS." In the face of such problems, he said, "precise theological and pastoral responses must be offered, in order to profoundly evangelize the hearts of human beings and awaken their consciences."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "inspired preaching" associated with "rigorous initial and permanent formation by catechists," may give rise to "a new drive to sanctity in your communities."

  "I am pleased at the increase in numbers of seminarians and priests," the Pope continued, "and I give thanks for the patient work of missionaries that preceded it. ... The search for unity in the service of the mission invites you to safeguard ties of fraternal communion with priests." The Holy Father then invited all priests to meditate "upon the requirements of pastoral charity, and especially upon the need for a chaste life lived in celibacy in accordance with the law of the Church, the just exercise of authority and a healthy relationship with material goods."

  The Pope went on to recall how in their reports the bishops had referred to the challenges facing the family. In this context, he called on them to promote "a form of pastoral care of the family that offers young people a rigorous ... moral education, and prepares them to experience conjugal love in a responsible way, which is a necessary condition for the stability of the family and of all society."

  In closing, Benedict XVI spoke to the bishops of the need to consolidate "fraternal relations with other Christian confessions and with believers from other religions, in order to show the love of Christ the Savior, Who aroused in mankind the desire to live in peace and to form a people of brothers and sisters."

  "Church of Cameroon," he exclaimed, "in your region of Central African so torn by wars, be an ever more tangible sign of peace, ... the peace that overcomes the temptation to take refuge in national or ethnic identity, that excludes the temptation to vengeance or resentment, and that establishes new relations between human beings, relations founded on justice and on peace!"
AL/.../CAMEROON                                VIS 20060320 (490)

Friday, March 17, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u S.M., archbishop emeritus of Samoa-Apia, on January 20, at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Joao Jose Burke O.F.M., of Miracema do Tocantins, Brazil, on March 14 at the age of 70.

 - Archbishop Giovanni Ceirano, apostolic nuncio, on January 30, at the age of 78.

 - Bishop Jean Hermil, emeritus of Viviers, France, on March 10 at the age of 88.

 - Bishop Antonio de Hornedo Correa S.J., emeritus of Chachapoyas, Peru, on January 10 at the age of 90.

 - Archbishop Mario Epifanio Abdallah Mgulunde of Tabora, Tanzania, on March 14 at the age of 74.

 - Bishop John Joseph Paul, emeritus of La Crosse, U.S.A., on March 5 at the age of 87.

 - Archbishop Donato Squicciarini, apostolic nuncio, on March 5 at the age of 78.

 - Bishop Ramon Artemio Staffolani, emeritus of Villa de la Concepcion del Rio Cuarto, Argentina, on March 8 at the age of 75.

 - Archbishop Antonio Maria Travia, former almsgiver of His Holiness, on February 5 at the age of 92.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Heiner Koch of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, pro-vicar, director of the pastoral office of the archiepiscopal Curia and canon of the metropolitan chapter, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 6,181, population 5,370,000, Catholics 2,196,771, priests 1,316, permanent deacons 292, religious 1,509). The bishop-elect was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1980.
NEA/.../KOCH                                    VIS 20060317 (80)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Antoine Ntalou of Garoua.

    - Bishop Jean-Bosco Ntep of Edea.

    - Bishop Dieudonne Bogmis of Eseka.

    - Bishop Dieudonne Watio of Nkongsamba, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Thomas Nkuissi.

    - Bishop Philippe Albert Joseph Stevens of Maroua-Mokolo.

    - Bishop Joseph Djida O.M.I., of Ngaoundere.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today were two Messages, exchanged between Benedict XVI and His Holiness Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, during the month of February.

  At a meeting in Moscow, Russia that took place on February 20, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, presented the patriarch with the Pope's Message and with a gold medal commemorating the current pontificate. In his turn, Alexis II, following a solemn liturgy celebrated of February 24 in the cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow to mark his birthday and name day, presented the cardinal with his own Message and a pectoral cross for the Holy Father, as a sign of his gratitude and respect.

  In his Message, the Pope declares that he "spiritually associates" himself with the patriarch's double celebration, and invokes "abundant blessings from the Lord upon your person and your ministry, so generously dedicated to the great cause of the Gospel.

  "The gestures and words of renewed fraternity between pastors of the Lord's flock show how ever more intense collaboration in truth and charity contribute to increasing the spirit of communion, which must guide the steps of all the baptized."

  The modern world, Benedict XVI continues, "needs to hear voices indicating the way of peace, of respect for everyone, of condemnation for all forms of violence, of the higher dignity of all individuals and of their intrinsic rights."

  In his Message, Alexis II thanks Benedict XVI for his greetings and writes: "In our own times, with the rapid growth of secularism, Christianity finds itself facing important challenges that require a shared testimony.

  "I am convinced," the patriarch continues, "that one of today's priorities for our Churches, which have a shared vision of the many problems currently facing the modern world, must be the defense and affirmation in society of the Christian values by which humanity has lived for more than a millennium. I hope that the rapid resolution of outstanding problems between our two Churches will also contribute to this end."

  The patriarch concludes his Message by expressing his "best wishes for good health" to the Holy Father and invoking divine assistance "in carrying out the exalted office of primate of the Roman Catholic Church."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the president of which is Archbishop John P. Foley.

  The Pope began his English-language address by praising those present for their commitment "to the important apostolate of social communications, both as a direct form of evangelization and as a contribution to the promotion of all that is good and true for every human society." He then went on to refer to his own first Message for World Communications Day, which considers "the media as a network which facilitates communication, communion and cooperation."

  That Message, the Pope continued, also recalls how "the Vatican Council II decree 'Inter Mirifica,' had already recognized the enormous power of the media to inform the minds of individuals and to shape their thinking. Forty years later we realize, more than ever, the pressing need to harness that power for the benefit of all humanity."

  The Holy Father referred to words of St. Paul to the effect that "we are no longer strangers and aliens but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God," adding: "This sublime portrayal of a life of communion engages all aspects of our lives as Christians and for you, in a particular way, points to the challenge to encourage the social communications and entertainment industries to be protagonists of truth and promoters of peace."

  "Such a commitment demands principled courage and resolve, on the part of those who own and work within the hugely influential media industry, to ensure that promotion of the common good is never sacrificed to a self-serving quest for profit or an ideological agenda with little public accountability."

  Another theme of his Message, the Pope continued, was "the urgent need to uphold and support marriage and family life, the foundation of every culture and society." In this context he stressed the importance of presenting children with "edifying models of human life and love," that do not "ridicule the God-given dignity of the human person and undermine family interests."

  The Pope concluded his address by calling on leaders in the communications sector "to promote what is good and true, especially in regard to the meaning of human and social existence, and to denounce what is false, especially pernicious trends which erode the fabric of a civil society."

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