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Friday, March 30, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Giuseppe Constanzo of Siracusa.

    - Bishop Vincenzo Manzella of Caltagirone.

    - Bishop Francesco Micciche of Trapani.

    - Bishop Francesco Sgalambro of Cefalu.

    - Bishop Ignazio Zambito of Patti.

    - Bishop Domenico Mogavero of Mazara del Vallo accompanied by Msgr. Mariano Crociata, diocesan administrator.

  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 30, 2007 (VIS) - On March 22, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, delivered a talk on the subject of religious freedom during the 4th session of the Human Rights Council.

  In his English-language address, the text of which was made public today, the archbishop makes clear the Holy See's concern for "the emergence of an apparent dilemma between respect due to religions and the right to religious freedom as if they were incompatible and mutually exclusive aspects. On the contrary, they are complementary values that cannot stand one without the other."

  "Any religion that preaches or condones violence, intolerance and hatred renders itself unworthy of the name. ... Respect of religion means respect of those who have chosen to follow it and practice it in a free and pacific way, in private and in public, individually or collectively."

  "In conclusion, a really democratic State values religious freedom as a fundamental element of the common good, worthy of respect and protection, and creates the conditions that allow its citizens to live and act freely."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - This morning Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, read out a Message from the Pope addressed to him and to participants in the ninth International Youth Forum, currently being held at Rocca di Papa near Rome on the theme: "Bearing witness to Christ in the world of work."

  In his Message, the Holy Father explains how the phenomenon of globalization has brought with it "a need for mobility that obliges many young people to emigrate and live far from their countries of origin and their families. This imbues many of them with a disquieting sense of insecurity that has indubitable repercussions on their ability, not only to imagine and plan their futures, but even to make a real commitment to marriage and the formation of a family."

  "All human activities," Benedict XVI writes, "should be an opportunity and an occasion for the growth of individuals and society, an opening to develop personal talents which must be valued and placed at the orderly service of the common good, in a spirit of justice and solidarity. For believers, the ultimate aim of work is the building of the Kingdom of God."

  "Today more than ever it is necessary and vital to proclaim 'the Gospel of work,' to live as Christians in the world of work and to become apostles among workers. But in order to achieve this mission we must remain united to Christ in prayer and an intense sacramental life. And to this end we must value Sunday, which is a day dedicated to the Lord."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Tetiana Izhevska, the new ambassador of the Ukraine to the Holy See. He opened his French-language speech to the diplomat by thanking her for the invitation of Victor Iouchtchenko, president of Ukraine, to visit his country.

  "Ukraine, which because of its geographical position has always had the vocation of being a gateway between East and West," said the Holy Father, "has over these years begun and developed a policy of openness and collaboration with other countries on the continent." He expressed his appreciation for this state of affairs which, he said, is contributing "to restoring Europe to its true dimension, ensuring conditions of fruitful exchange between ... the two cultural lungs that forged its history."

  "I am sure that the Ukrainian nation - its life, culture and institutions profoundly impregnated with the Gospel - will concern itself with carrying the dynamism of its identity to other nations, while preserving its original characteristics. Indeed it is vital, in a world ever more strongly marked by globalization, to favor a serious and profound dialogue between cultures and religions, not in order to reduce them all to some impoverished syncretism but to help them develop mutual respect and cooperate ... for the common good. This will enable a reduction of the ever-present sources of tension and conflict between groups and nations, and guarantee everyone the conditions for lasting peace and development."

  The Pope recalled "the good relations that exist between the government authorities and the Churches and ecclesial communities in Ukraine," where "believers enjoy religious liberty, an essential aspect of human freedom." In keeping with "a just distinction between the responsibilities of the religious and civil spheres, the State recognizes different forms of worship ... ensuring them equal rights before the law and thus allowing each ... to play its specific role for the common good of the nation."

  The Holy Father also considered the question of the Catholic Church's involvement in the education of young Ukrainians, praising the efforts "of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations to draw up a program concerning the teaching of Christian ethics in State schools."

  Finally, the Pope mentioned the Catholics who live in Ukraine, both those of the Latin rite and those of the Byzantine rite, highlighting their "concern for the permanent dialogue between the Eastern and Western traditions." The Holy Father thanked President Iouchtchenko for the concern he has shown for the bishops of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference of the Latin rite, and gave assurances of "the commitment of all Ukrainian Catholics to the wellbeing of the country."

  "I know that their desire is to bear daily witness to the Gospel through acts of solidarity, ... through a will to build peace and a desire to consolidate the values of the family founded upon marriage," Pope Benedict concluded. "I am also aware of their wish to progress along the path of unity with their Orthodox brethren and with their brothers and sisters in other Christian communities. I encourage them, then, always to be willing to consolidate ecumenical dialogue, which is such a vital way to overcome difficulties."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at a penitential celebration with thousands of young people from the diocese of Rome in preparation for the forthcoming World Youth Day. The Day is due to be held on Palm Sunday, April 1, on the theme: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

  "The heart of all mankind ... thirsts for love," said the Holy Father in his homily. "Christians, even more so, cannot live without love. Indeed, if they do not find true love they cannot even call themselves fully Christian because, ... 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

  "God's love for us," he added, "which began with the creation, became visible in the mystery of the Cross. ... A crucified love that does not stop at the outrage of Good Friday but culminates in the joy of the Resurrection ... and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love by which, this evening too, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace granted."

  This divine love "may be described with the term 'agape,' in other words 'the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other,' but also with the term 'eros'" because "it is also a love in which the heart of the Almighty awaits the 'yes' of His creatures." And "in the sacrifice of the Cross, God continues to present His love ... coming 'to beg' the love of His creatures."

  "With Baptism you were born to new life by virtue of the grace of God. However, since this new life has not suppressed the weakness of human nature, ... you are given the opportunity to use the Sacrament of Confession. ... And thus you experience the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; the recovery, if lost, of the state of grace; ... peace and serenity of conscience and the consolation of the spirit; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian struggle."

  Christ "hopes we will allow ourselves to be attracted by His love and feel all its greatness and beauty, but this is not enough. Christ attracts us to Him in order to unite Himself to each one of us, so that, in our turn, we learn to love our brothers and sisters with His same love."

  "As you leave this celebration, with your hearts full of the experience of God's love, be prepared 'to dare' to love in your families, in your dealings with your friends and even with those who have offended you. Be prepared to bear a truly Christian witness" in all environments.

  Benedict XVI called upon newly-engaged couples to experience the period of their engagement "in the true love which always involves mutual, chaste and responsible respect. And should the Lord call some of you, dear young people of Rome, to a life of special consecration, be ready to answer with a generous and uncompromising 'yes'."

  "Dear young people, the world awaits your contribution for the building of the 'civilization of love.' ... Do not become discouraged and always have faith in Christ and in the Church."

  Following the liturgy the Pope put on a purple stole and entered the confessional to administer the Sacrament of Penance to six young people. Fifty-five priests joined him in administering the Sacrament to others present in the Vatican Basilica.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 29, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Daegu, Korea, presented by Archbishop Paul Ri Moun-hi, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Msgr. Alfredo Abbondi as bureau chief at the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 29, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, Ukraine.

 - Seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Paolo Romeo of Palermo.

    - Archbishop Salvatore Gristina of Catania.

    - Archbishop Calogero La Piana S.D.B., of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Francesco Montenegro.

    - Archbishop-Bishop Pio Vittorio Vigo of Acireale.

    - Archbishop Salvatore Di Cristina of Monreale.

    - Bishop Salavatore Pappalardo of Nicosia.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Zeno Hastenteufel of Frederico Westphalen, Brazil, as bishop of Novo Hamburgo (area 3,337, population 958,000, Catholics 722,000, priests 128, permanent deacons 19, religious 303), Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - On the question of the plenary meeting of the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel, due to have taken place tomorrow March 29, 2007, to consider certain questions associated with negotiations concerning article 10 para. 2a of the Fundamental Agreement (which was signed on December 30, 1993 and came into effect on March 10 1994), the Holy See Press Office is in a position to clarify the following:

  "On March 26, the Israeli delegation made known the impossibility of its participating in the meeting, due to the international political situation. The Holy See, while understanding the reasons, notes the circumstance with disappointment and hopes as soon as possible to be able to agree with the Israeli side a new date for calling the plenary."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 5.30 p.m. on Monday, April 2, Benedict XVI is due to preside at a Eucharistic concelebration marking the second anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - During the general audience today, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon and "the first great theologian of the Church," who was born in Smyrna in the second century. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 20,000 people.

  Irenaeus was a disciple of Bishop Polycarp who had known St. John the Evangelist. Moving to Gaul, he became one of the priests of the young Christian community of Lyon and, having been sent on a mission to Rome, managed to escape the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in which his predecessor, Bishop Pothinus, was martyred.

  Irenaeus, said the Pope, was above all a pastor "who defended true doctrine," in particular against the gnostic heresy "which considered the faith taught by the Church as a form of symbolism for simple people, ... while initiates and intellectuals, understanding what lay behind the symbols, would be able to create an elitist and intellectualist form of Christianity."

  Another feature of gnosticism was its dualism. "In order to explain the existence of evil in the world they held that alongside the good God was a negative force which produced material things."

  However Irenaeus, "solidly rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation ... defended the divine origin of matter, of the body ... no less than that of the Spirit." And "the heart of his doctrine is the 'rule of faith' and its transmission, ... which coincides with the Apostles' Creed."

  "Thus, authentic teaching is not that invented by intellectuals over and above the simple faith of the Church. The true Gospel is the one imparted by the bishops who received it from the Apostles in an uninterrupted chain. They taught no more than this simple faith, which is also the real profundity of God's revelation. ... There is no secret doctrine behind the shared creed of the Church, there is no superior form of Christianity for intellectuals."

  "In adhering to the faith publicly transmitted by the Apostles to their successors, Christians must follow what bishops say, they must especially consider the teaching of the Church of Rome ... which because of her antiquity has the greatest degree of apostolicity ... and has her origins in the columns of the apostolic college, Peter and Paul.

  According to Irenaeus, "apostolic tradition is 'public,' not private or secret. ... The contents of the faith transmitted by the Church were received from the Apostles and Jesus. ... The apostolic tradition is 'unique,' ... despite the diversity of languages and cultures." The transmission of apostolic tradition "does not depend upon the capacity of more or less learned men." It is "pneumatic," guided by the Holy Spirit "which makes the Church alive and young, rich in her many charisms."

  In his Italian-language greetings at the end of the audience, the Pope addressed bishops and faithful from dioceses in Sicily. The Sicilian bishops are currently undertaking their "ad limina" visit to Rome.

  "Through your example, support priests, consecrated people and the lay faithful of Sicily that they may continue to bear witness to Christ and His Gospel with renewed enthusiasm and zeal," the Holy Father told the prelates. "May no fear ever enter your hearts to agitate you. ... Those who follow Christ are not afraid of difficulties, those who trust in Him move forward confidently. Be builders of peace in legality and love, offering light to the men and women of our time who, though oppressed by the cares of everyday life, hear the call of the eternal truths."
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Oscar Roberto Dominguez Couttolenc M.G., vicar general of the Institute of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Foreign Missions, as bishop of Tlapa (area 6,990, population 485,000, Catholics 454,000, priests 55, religious 53), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Puebla, Mexico, in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2007 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke on March 23 during the 4th session of the Human Rights Council.

  In opening his English-language address, which was published yesterday afternoon, Archbishop Tomasi recalled that "the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child attributes to the child the fundamental rights of a person; it recognizes the child to have the same equality and dignity as any adult person."

  "In many cases," he went on, "due to lack of will and of resources, good legal provisions and public policies are not implemented, with grave consequences for children. They often become the first victims of famines and wars."

  "To many children the right to life is denied; prenatal selection eliminates both babies suspected of having disabilities and female children simply because of their sex, and thus denies the equal and intrinsic value of disabled persons and of girls for their families and for society."

  Archbishop Tomasi then pointed out that "the first right of children is that of being born and educated in a welcoming and secure family environment where their physical, psychological and spiritual growth is guaranteed, their potential is developed and where the awareness of personal dignity becomes the base for relating to others and for confronting the future."

  State and society, said the permanent observer, must "concretely support and enable the family to carry out its task. ... The Catholic Church's over 300,000 social, caring and educational institutions work daily to ensure both a peace-oriented and creative education for children, and the development of their talents, and to provide the reintegration of abused and neglected children into their families, if possible, and into society."

  "Children are both weakness and hope. To pursue the defence of their rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against them remains an institutional challenge for the international community. Success will be reached if priority is given to the natural role of the family and to the public culture that recognizes that children too are full human persons."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a Letter to Cardinal Camillo Ruini thanking him for his long service as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). On March 7, the Pope accepted Cardinal Ruini's resignation from office and appointed in his place Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa.

  In his Letter, which is dated March 23, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude for the cardinal's labors over more than 15 years as head of the CEI and, prior to that, as secretary of the organization.

  How can we forget," the Pope writes, "that you guided the Italian bishops through a delicate and crucial stage of the history of the Italian people? Over these years your courage and tenacity in supporting the Church's activities have provided a service not only to the People of God but to the entire Italian nation. May God bring the multiple initiatives begun by the Church in Italy to full maturation."

  For his part, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a message of congratulation to Archbishop Bagnasco, the new president of the CEI. Cardinal Bertone calls upon the Lord to support and illuminate Archbishop Bagnasco in his new office, that he may "help his brother bishops of the Church in Italy to grow in full communion between themselves and with Peter's Successor."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Letter, written in Latin and dated March 26, to Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, for the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. The cardinal was ordained in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran on March 27, 1937.

  In his Letter Benedict XVI recalls the "charm and affability" of Cardinal Stickler, who is due to celebrate his 97th birthday in August, as well as the "charity and piety" that characterized his priestly ministry. He also praises the cardinal's efforts towards the expansion and renovation of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

Monday, March 26, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Philibert Tembo Nlandu C.I.C.M. provincial superior of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kinshasa, as coadjutor bishop of Budjala (area 50,000, population 1,070,000, Catholics 525,000, priests 41), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Nganda Kikamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1991.

  Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India, with the consent of the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankar Church and in accordance with canon 85, para. 2.2, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promoted Bishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal of Muvattapuzha of the Syro-Malankars, to the office of metropolitan archbishop of Tiruvalla of the Syro-Malankars (area 11,120, population 5.335.000, Catholics 37.284, priests 126, religious 315), India. The archbishop-elect was born in Kadapramannar, India, in 1958, he was ordained a priest in 1985 and consecrated a bishop in 1997.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy.

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

    - Bishop Sotir Ferrara of Piana degli Albanesi.

    - Archbishop Carmelo Ferraro of Agrigento.

    - Bishop Mario Russotto of Caltanissetta.

    - Bishop Michele Pennisi of Piazza Armerina.

 - Frere Alois, prior of the community of Taize, France.

  On Saturday, march 24, he received in separate audiences:

 - Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti of Tempio-Ampurias, Italy, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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DURING A BRIEF MEETING WITH A GROUP OF PROFESSORS from the faculty of theology of Tubingen, Germany on March 21, the Pope affirmed that: "University and society, humanity indeed, need questions, but they also need answers. And, in this context, I feel that theology - and not only theology - has need of a dialectic between rigid scientific principles and the greater question that transcends them and repeatedly emerges within them: the question of truth." Theology, said the Pope, "needs, apart from the courage to ask, also the humility to listen to the answers that Christian faith gives us."

THE POPE HAS SENT A TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCE to Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Maputo, Mozambique, for the explosion at a weapons depot near the city's international airport on March 22 that left dozens of people dead. The Pope gives assurances of his prayers for the victims whom he "entrusts to the mercy of God, and for the injured, for their families and for all the inhabitants of the region, that they may find the necessary assistance and support at this moment of trial."

IN A MESSAGE WRITTEN FOR WORLD WATER DAY, which was celebrated on March 22 on the theme "Coping with Water Scarcity," the Pope highlights how water is "a universal and inalienable right" that must be "promoted and safeguarded." In his Message - which was read in his name by Msgr. Renato Volante , Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) - Benedict XVI indicates the need "to re-examine models of consumption and production which are often unsustainable in terms of the use of water resources. This is ... a moral and political imperative in a world with levels of knowledge and technology capable of putting an end to situations of water scarcity and their dramatic consequences."

MSGR. PIETRO PAROLIN, UNDER-SECRETARY FOR RELATIONS with States of the Secretariat of State, delivered a speech on March 22 in the course of an international conference called by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, held in the Rome headquarters of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture on March 22 and 23. Speaking English, Msgr. Parolin expressed his "firm conviction that the different religious confessions present in the Holy Land can make a decisive contribution to the re-launching of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2007 (VIS) - The Solemnity of the Annunciation (which falls every year on March 25, but this year is being celebrated tomorrow because today is a Sunday of Lent), and the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, which falls on March 24, were the central theme of Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus today.

  Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of the "extraordinary mystery of faith" of the Annunciation, "a humble and unseen event ... that was nonetheless decisive for the history of humanity."

  "Mary's 'yes'," he explained, "was the perfect reflection Christ's own 'yes' when He entered the world. ... And through the meeting of these two 'yeses,' God was able to assume a human face. ... Mary's reply to the angel is prolonged in the Church, which is called to make Christ present in history, offering her own readiness that God may continue to visit humanity with His mercy."

  Jesus' 'yes' and Mary's 'yes' are renewed, the Holy Father explained, in the 'yes' of the saints, and especially of martyrs who died for the Gospel. He also recalled that yesterday, March 24 and the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, was the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, "bishops, priests, religious and lay people killed in the course of their mission of evangelization and human promotion.

  "They," he added, "are the 'hope of the world' because they testify that love of Christ is stronger than violence and hatred. They did not seek martyrdom, but were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified only as a supreme act of love to God and to one's fellow men and women."

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that next Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks 22nd World Youth Day, the theme of which this year is Christ's commandment: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

  The Pope invited young Romans to the penitential celebration he is due to preside on March 29 in the Vatican Basilica. "Those who wish," he said, "will have the opportunity to access the Sacrament of Confession, a true encounter with the love of God, which all mankind needs in order to live in joy and peace."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2007 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited the parish of St. Felicitas and children, martyrs, in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated Mass.

  In his homily, the Holy Father explained how today's Gospel text on the adulteress "helps us to understand that only God can change man's life, and hence society, from within, because only His infinite love frees man from sin which is the root of all evil."

  God is, "above all, love," he went on. "If He hates sin it is because He has an infinite love for all human beings. He loves each one of us and His faithfulness is such that it is not discouraged even by our refusal. Today particularly, Jesus calls us to interior conversion: He explains why He forgives us, and He teaches us to make forgiveness received and given to others the 'daily bread' of our lives."

  In the Gospel episode as recounted by St. John, "man's misery and divine mercy come face to face: a woman accused of a grave sin and He Who, though without sin, took on the sins of the world entire." Jesus "asks for no explanations, He does not seek excuses. He is not being ironic when He asks her: ... 'Has no one condemned you?' And His reply is astounding: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again'."

  The Lord's aim was "to save a soul and to reveal that salvation is only to be found in the love of God. For this reason He came into the world, for this reason He would die on the Cross and the Father would raise Him on the third day. Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in heaven and that hell - of which so little is said in our time - exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love."

  "What is being highlighted here is the fact that only God's forgiveness and His love received with an open and sincere heart give us the strength to resist evil and to sin no more. Jesus' attitude thus becomes a model to be followed by all communities, called to make love and forgiveness the pulsating heart of their lives."

  Benedict XVI concluded by calling upon his listeners, through the intercession of St. Felicitas and her children, martyrs, "to discover Christ ever more profoundly and to follow Him with docile trust. ... May the example and intercession of these saints be a constant encouragement for you to follow the path of the Gospel without hesitation or compromise."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope met with more than 80,000 people from 50 countries who are taking part in a pilgrimage organized by the Communion and Liberation association (CL). The event is being held to mark the 35th anniversary of pontifical recognition for the association.

  The Holy Father began his address to them by recalling how two years ago in the cathedral of Milan he had presided, in the name of John Paul II, at the funeral of Msgr. Luigi Guissani, the founder of CL. "Through him the Holy Spirit inspired in the Church a movement that testifies to the beauty of being Christian, in an age marked by the ever more widespread opinion that Christianity is something oppressive and difficult to practice." Don Giussani used to repeat that only the Lord "is the way towards realizing the desires of the human heart."

  Pope Benedict recalled that in one of John Paul II's meetings with members of CL, the late pontiff had highlighted how "the original educational contribution of Communion and Liberation lies in the way it re-proposes - in a fascinating way that harmonizes with contemporary culture - the Christian message, considered as a source of new values, ... capable of orienting an entire existence."

  "Communion and Liberation is a community experience of faith born within the Church, not through an organizational initiative of the hierarchy but originating from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we may say, from an impulse that derives in the final instance from the Holy Spirit. Even today it offers the possibility of living Christian faith in a profound and modern way, on the one hand in complete fidelity and communion with Peter's Successor and the pastors who ensure the governance of the Church, and on the other with a spontaneity and freedom that give rise to new and prophetic apostolic and missionary achievements."

  After reiterating that ecclesial movements "are a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord," the Holy Father recalled the words he had used during a recent meeting with pastors of the city of Rome, referring to St. Paul's call "not to extinguish charisms. If the Lord gives us new gifts, we must be grateful even if they are difficult."

  The Holy Father also recalled John Paul II's parting message to CL members on the occasion of an earlier meeting: "'Go throughout the world to bring the truth, beauty and peace of Christ the Redeemer.' Don Giussani made those words the program of the entire movement, and for Communion and Liberation this was the beginning of a missionary journey that has taken you to 80 countries. Today," he concluded, "I invite you to continue along this path, with profound faith ... solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church, which guarantees Christ's daily presence among us."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received cardinals, bishops, parliamentarians and other participants in a congress promoted by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE). The event is being held to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.

  The Pope recalled how over these fifty years the continent has travelled a long journey leading "to the reconciliation of the two 'lungs,' East and West, joined by a shared history and arbitrarily separated by a curtain of injustice." And he referred to the search, "still painstakingly underway, for an adequate institutional structure for the European Union, which ... aspires to be a global player."

  Benedict XVI noted how Europe has sought to conciliate "the economic and social dimensions through policies aimed at producing wealth, ... yet without overlooking the legitimate expectations of the poor and marginalized. However, in demographic terms, it must unfortunately be noted that Europe seems set on a path that could lead to its exit from history."

  "It could almost be imagined that the European continent is actually losing faith in its own future," said the Holy Father, and he recalled how in some fields such as "respect for the environment" or "access to energy resources and investments, solidarity finds scant incentives, in both the international and the national fields." Moreover, "the process of European unification is clearly not shared by everyone," because "various 'chapters' of the European project were 'written' without taking adequate account of the wishes of citizens.

  "What emerges from all this," he added, "is that it is unthinkable to create an authentic 'common European home' while ignoring the identity of the people of our continent. ... An identity that is historical, cultural and moral, more even than geographical, economic or political; an identity made up of a collection of universal values which Christianity contributed to creating, thus acquiring a role that is not only historical but foundational for the continent of Europe."

  "If, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the governments of the EU wish to 'get closer' to their citizens, how can they exclude such an essential element of European identity as Christianity, in which a vast majority of that people continue to identify themselves? Is it not surprising that modern Europe, while seeking to present itself as a community of values, seems ever more frequently to question the very existence of universal and absolute values? And does this singular form of 'apostasy' - from oneself even more than from God - not perhaps induce Europe to doubt its own identity?

  "In this way," he added, "we end up by spreading the conviction that the 'balance of interests' is the only way to moral discernment, and that the common good is a synonym of compromise. In reality, although compromise can be a legitimate balance between varying individual interests," it is bad "whenever it leads to agreements that harm the nature of man."

  "For this reason it is becoming ever more indispensable for Europe to avoid the pragmatic approach, so widespread today, that systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if the acceptance of a supposedly lesser evil were inevitable. ... When such pragmatism involves laical and relativist trends and tendencies, Christians end up being denied the right to participate as Christians in public debate or, at the least, their contribution is disqualified with the accusation of seeking to protect unjustified privileges."

  Benedict XVI went on to affirm that at this moment in history the European Union, "in order to be a valid guarantor of the State of law and an effective promoter of universal values, must clearly recognize the definite existence of a stable and permanent human nature." This nature is "the source of rights shared by all individuals, including the very people who seek to deny them. In such a context protection must be afforded to conscientious objection" in cases where "fundamental human rights are violated."

  "I know how difficult it is for Christians to defend this truth. ... But do not tire and do not be discouraged! You know your task is to contribute to building, with God's help, a new Europe, realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free of naive illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel."
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Friday, March 23, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Jose Mendoza Corzo, vicar general of the archdiocese of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, and pastor of the parish of "Santa Cruz" in Teran, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 22,629, population 1,210,000, Catholics 934,000, priests 145, religious 314). The bishop-elect was born in Cristobal Obregon, Mexico in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed Fr. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-Kil, director of the Catholic daily "Maeil," as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Daegu (area 9,128, population 4,466,166, Catholics 419,299, priests 353, religious 1,142), Korea. The bishop-elect was born in Hwa-Won, Korea in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1981.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Paolo Mario Virgilio Atzei O.F.M. Conv., of Sassari, Italy, on his "ad limina " visit.

 - Hans-Gert Poettering, president of the European Parliament, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Three prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Giacomo Lanzetti of Alghero-Bosa.

    - Bishop Sergio Pinter of Ozieri.

    - Bishop Tarcisio Pillolla, apostolic administrator of Iglesias.

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

  Yesterday evening, March 22, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

 - Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique concerning the audience granted by the Holy Father to Mary McAleese, president of Ireland.

  "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mary McAleese, president of Ireland, accompanied by her husband and an entourage.

  "The president subsequently went on the meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  "In the course of the discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, attention turned to problems associated with the situation of the Church in Ireland, concentrating particularly on the positive start of 'Structured Dialogue' between the State and Churches - in the spirit of the new European Constitutional Treaty - as a promising way towards a positive contribution of Churches to the life of society.

  "Consideration was also given to other more general questions such as the construction of Europe and its Christian root's, and developments in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

  "Particular appreciation was expressed for Irish commitment to providing disinterested aid for the development of the poorest countries of Africa, with its White Paper on Aid'."
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Thursday, March 22, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2007 (VIS) - The following prelates died recently:

 - Bishop Miguel Angel Lecumberri Erburu O.C.D., former apostolic vicar of Tumaco, Colombia, on March 14, at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Carlos Ambrosio Lewis S.V.D., coadjutor emeritus of David, Panama, on November 29, 2004, at the age of 86.

 - Bishop Jose Ivo Lorscheiter, emeritus of Santa Maria, Brazil, on March 5, at the age of 79.

 - Bishop Abdul-Ahad Sana, emeritus of Alquoch of the Chaldeans, Iraq, on March 2, 2007, at the age of 84.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone, presented by Bishop Joseph Henry Ganda, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to Uganda, as apostolic nuncio to Mexico.

 - Appointed Bishop Richard William Smith of Pembroke, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of Edmonton (area 81,151, population 1,439,572, Catholics 353,545, priests 175, permanent deacons 1, religious 449), Canada. The archbishop-elect was born in Halifax, Canada in 1959, he was ordained a priest in 1987, and consecrated a bishop in 2002.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Eight prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Giuseppe Mani of Cagliari, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Mose Marcia.

    - Bishop Antioco Piseddu of Lanusei.

    - Bishop Pietro Meloni of Nuoro.

    - Archbishop Ignazio Sanna of Oristano.

    - Bishop Giovanni Dettori of Ales-Terralba, accompanied by Bishop-elect Paolo Zedda of Iglesias and by Bishop Antonino Orru, emeritus of Ales-Terralba.

 - Archbishop Leo Boccardi, apostolic nuncio to Sudan and Eritrea, accompanied by members of his family.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI is due to make a pastoral visit to the Italian towns of Vigevano and Pavia on April 21 and 22.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican , Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The council is presided by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan.

  In his talk to them, the Pope affirmed that "health pastoral care is, in fact, an evangelical field par excellence that immediately calls to mind the work of Jesus, the Good Samaritan of humankind ... Who always accompanied His preaching with the signs He worked upon the sick."

  "The health of man, of all of man, was the sign that Jesus chose to express the proximity of God and His merciful love that heals the spirit, the soul and the body," said the Holy Father.

  The Pope called on healthcare workers, in all their activities, to recollect Christ, Who is presented by the Gospels as the "divine doctor," and he added: "Helping human beings is a duty, both as a response to a fundamental right ... and because the cure of individuals works for the benefit of the community as a whole.

  "Modern science progresses in as much as it accepts the constant discussion of diagnoses and treatment methods, on the supposition that existing data and supposed limits can be overcome," he added. "Moreover, respect for and faith in healthcare workers is proportional to the conviction that these defenders of life will never despise a human existence, however handicapped it may be, and will always ... encourage attempts at a cure.

  "The commitment to treatment must, then, be extended to all human beings. ... This ethical perspective, based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties connected thereto, is confirmed and strengthened by the commandment to love, the heart of the Christian message."

  "Charity as a duty of the Church," said Pope Benedict, "has a particularly significant application in the care of the sick. The history of the Church bears witness to this with innumerable cases of men and women ... who have worked in this field."

  Benedict XVI completed his talk by recalling the importance of the Eucharist, from which healthcare ministry can draw "the strength to help man effectively and promote him in accordance with his dignity. ... The Eucharist, administered decorously and prayerfully to the sick, is a vital lymph that comforts them and gives their souls the interior light necessary to live their infirmity and suffering with faith and hope."
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 1,645, population 7,060,750, Catholics 5,215,000, priests 941, permanent deacons 30, religious 2,825). The archbishop-elect was born in Sao Francisco, Brazil in 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1976, and consecrated a bishop in 2002.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father received a group of professors from the faculty of theology of Tubingen, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a communique concerning the meeting of the bilateral commission made up of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church.

  The communique indicates that this meeting, the seventh of the bilateral commission, took place in Jerusalem from March 11 to 13, was presided by Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia and Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, and considered the theme: "Freedom of Religion and Conscience and its Limits."

  "Freedom of choice is derived from God and therefore is not absolute, but must reflect divine will and law," reads the English-language communique. "Accordingly human beings are called to freely obey the divine will as manifested in the Creation and in His revealed word."

  "Secular society still requires religious foundations to sustain lasting moral values. Critical among these is the principal of the sanctity of human life and dignity."

  "While on principle the State should in no way limit freedom of religion for individuals and communities nor of moral conscience, it has the responsibility to guarantee the wellbeing and security of society, Accordingly it is obliged to intervene wherever and whenever a threat is posed by the promotion, teaching or exercise of violence and specifically terrorism and psychological manipulation in the name of religion."

  "It is legitimate for a society with a predominant religious identity to preserve its character, as long as this does not limit the freedom of minority communities and individuals to profess their alternative religious commitments, nor limit their full civil rights."

  "There is a special obligation upon religious leaders and communities to prevent the improper use of religion and to educate towards respect for diversity which is essential in order to ensure a healthy a, stable and peaceful society. In this regard, there is a special role for families, schools and the authorities of State and society as well as the media to impart these values to future generations."

  The declaration of the bilateral commission concludes with a call to religious and political leaders "to work determinedly to promote peace, dignity, security and tranquillity in the Holy Land for all its peoples and for the world as a whole."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a telegram of condolence, in the name of the Holy Father, to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, for the many victims of two recent disasters in the country: an explosion in a mine and a fire in an old people's home

  "Profoundly saddened by the terrible tragedy in the mine of Novokuznetsk and the violent conflagration at the old people's home in the village of Kamyshevatskaya, with the tragic death of many people and large numbers of injured, the Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness to the citizens struck by these tragic events and to the entire population of the Russian Federation in these hours of anguish and, while raising fervent prayers to the Lord for the eternal repose of the deceased, he invokes heavenly consolation upon those weeping the loss of their loved ones. The Supreme Pontiff, in expressing his hopes for the speedy recovery of those injured in these incidents, offers his sincere condolences to relatives of the victims, invoking upon everyone abundant consolation from heaven."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Justin, philosopher and martyr, the most important of the Apologist Fathers of the second century. The audience took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by around 25,000 people.

  St. Justin, said the Pope, was born in Samaria around the year 100. He "long sought after the truth" by studying Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity after meeting a mysterious old man who spoke to him "of mankind's incapacity to satisfy his aspiration to the divine through his own efforts," then indicated "in the ancient prophets ... the path to God and 'true philosophy'," exhorting Justin to pray in order to open the "doors of light."

  After his conversion, Justin founded a school in Rome where he taught the new religion to his pupils free of charge. He was denounced for his activities and decapitated during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

  In his works "Justin seeks to explain, above all, the divine project of salvation that comes about in Jesus Christ, the Word of God," said the Holy Father. "All men and women, as rational beings, share in the Logos, they carry in themselves a 'seed' and can catch some glimmers of the truth.

  "Thus," he added, "the same Logos that was revealed in prophetic figures to the Jews in the ancient Law, was also partially manifested as 'seeds of truth' to the Greeks. ... And because Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in its entirety, it follows that 'everything of beauty that has ever been expressed by anyone belongs to us Christians'."

  Justin, in the conviction that Greek philosophy tends towards Christ, "believed that Christians could draw from that philosophy with complete confidence. ... The figure and work of Justin mark the ancient Church's decisive option in favor of philosophy, rather than of pagan religion," with which the early Christians rejected "any form of compromise."

  "In fact, pagan religion did not follow the paths of Logos but persisted along those of myth, even though myth was recognized by Greek philosophy as having no foundation in truth. Therefore the decline of paganism was inevitable, stemming as a logical consequence of the removal of religion - reduced to an artificial agglomeration of ceremonies and conventions - from the truth of existence."

  Justin and the other apologists chose "the truth of existence over the myth of convention. ... In an age such as our own, marked by relativism in its debate of values, religion and inter-religious dialogue, this is a lesson that must not be forgotten.

  At the end of today's catechesis, the Pope recalled that March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. "May this anniversary," he said, "favor increased responsibility in the treatment of this sickness and an ever greater solidarity towards those who suffer from it. Upon them and their families I invoke the comfort of the Lord while encouraging the many initiatives the Church promotes in this field."
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Josip Mrzljak, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Zagreb, Croatia, as bishop of Varazdin (area 3,100, population 391,890, Catholics 372,395, priests 153, religious 169), Croatia.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2007 (VIS) - In a communique published today, the Pontifical Council for the Laity announced the forthcoming celebration of the ninth International Youth Forum, due to be held at Rocca di Papa near Rome from March 28 to April 1 on the theme: "Bearing witness to Christ in the world of work."

  The forum will be attended by around 300 people between the ages of 20 and 35, all with a solid background of commitment in the Church and in the world of work. They come from around 100 different countries and have various work and ecclesiastical experiences. Also participating will be around 30 guests, including speakers and participants in round table discussions.

  The characteristics of young people entering the world of work in the various countries ("young people and the world of work today") will be the theme of the first day of the meeting. Particular attention will be given to the sociological, economic and institutional transformations brought about by globalization, and the sometimes dramatic consequences thereof (human mobility, unemployment, frustration). Attention will also turn to creative and innovative capacities and potential, and the emergence of new professions.

  The second day will be dedicated to a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and to the discovery of the city of Rome which many of the delegates will be visiting for the first time.

  "The significance of work for human life," especially in the light of the Church's social doctrine, is to be the theme of the third day. On the basis of John Paul II's Encyclical "Laborem exercens," attention will be given to the world of work in its entirety, considered as a world made up of human relationships where individuals have the right to self-realization in the exercise of their profession and where people learn to structure and unify their lives, rather than a machine to generate profit, regulated by competition and competitiveness and nourished by a consumer society."

  "Announcing the 'Gospel of work' today" is to be the theme of the last day of the forum. Attention will focus on the spirituality of work, the state of pastoral care in the workplace, and the role of Catholic associations in achieving what St. Benedict called 'ora et labora,' the unity of an individual's professional and Christian life.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2007 (VIS) - Having returned from his visit to the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered there.

  "Today," said the Pope, "the liturgy invites is to be joyful because Easter is approaching, the day of Christ's victory over sin and death. ... The source of Christian joy" is in the Eucharist which "nourishes in believers of all times that profound happiness which is one and the same as love and peace, and which has its roots in communion with God and with our brothers."

  Benedict XVI then referred to last Tuesday's presentation of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," dedicated to the subject of the Eucharist, and he emphasized how in this Sacrament "Christ wished to give us His love," the love that "brought Him to offer His life on the cross for us. At the Last Supper, washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus left us the commandment of love: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.' But since this is possible only by remaining united to Him like branches to the vine, He chose to remain among us in the Eucharist, so that we could abide in Him.

  "For this reason," the Holy Father added, "when we faithfully nourish ourselves of His Body and His Blood, His love passes into us and makes us, in our turn, capable of giving our life for our brothers and sisters. This is the source of Christian joy, the joy of love."

  Pope Benedict concluded by recalling the figure of St. Joseph, whose solemn liturgical feast falls tomorrow, and he called for the intercession of the saint "so that, believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic mystery with faith, the People of God may be pervaded with the love of Christ and spread the fruits of joy and peace to all humanity."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2007 (VIS) - Today at 9 a.m., the Holy Father visited the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome where he celebrated the Eucharist before going on to meet the fifty young people detained there.

  In his homily, the Holy Father commented on the Gospel episode of the prodigal son, in which the younger of two brothers goes out "to seek a life free from the discipline and norms of the commandments of God," and having received his inheritance leaves home for a distant land in search of "a completely different life."

  The prodigal son, he went on, does not wish to remain "in the prison of the discipline of his home," but to do as he pleases. And although he is initially happy, he becomes weighed down by tedium and "in the end all that remains is a disquieting emptiness."

  In this situation, the son begins "to reflect and ask himself if this is really his path in life, ... and whether it would not be better to live for others, to contribute to the construction of the world, to the growth of the human community. Thus he begins a new journey, an interior journey," and comes to believe "that he was much freer at home, ... discovering the project God had for him."

  This process of maturation, the Pope said, also includes "an exterior journey:" the son returns home to restart his life, and his father - "who had left him free in order to give him the chance to understand what life is and is not" - welcomes him with open arms.

  "The prodigal son understands that it is precisely the work, humility and discipline of every day that creates true joy and true freedom. So he returns home internally mature and purified. He has understood what it means to live, ... and now he is fully aware that a life without God does not work, because it lacks an essential quality, it lacks light, it lacks reason. It lacks the great sense of what it means to be a human being."

  The younger of the two brothers understands that "God's commandments are not obstacles to freedom and to a happy life, but indicate the path to follow in order to find life."

  "The errors we make," the Pope said, "even when they are big, do not affect the faithfulness of His love. In the Sacrament of Confession we can always begin life again. God welcomes us, He restores our dignity as His children."

  The parable of the prodigal son also helps us to understand that man "is not an isolated unit," but was created "together with others, and only in being with others, in giving ourselves to others, do we find life."

  Human beings are "fragile creatures exposed to evil," said the Holy Father, "but they are also capable of doing good."

  "In the final instance," he concluded, "man is free. ... Freedom, we may say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also be a slippery slope down which we slide towards the abyss of sin and evil, thus also losing our freedom and our dignity."

  Following the Mass, Benedict XVI went to the prison gymnasium where he met with the young inmates, who are between 17 and 23 years old and 85 percent of whom are non-Italian, in the company of their families, and of administrators and volunteers of the detention center.

  The Pope thanked them for their best wishes for his name day, which falls tomorrow, and gave assurances to the young people of his concern and affection for them.

  "Today," he said, "is a day of celebration for you ... because the Pope has come to visit. ... But how is it possible to be joyful when one suffers, when one is deprived of freedom, when one feels abandoned?"

  "God loves us, this is the source of true joy," he explained. "Even when we have everything we desire sometimes we are unhappy; yet it is possible to be deprived of everything, even of freedom and health, and yet to live in peace and joy, if in our hearts there is God. Here, then, lies the secret: God must occupy the primary place in our lives."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

 - Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Letter to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, which fell on March 16.

  In the text, written in Latin and dated February 16, the Pope praises the cardinal's work in the service of the Holy See over these 50 years.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at midday today, the Pope received participants in a pilgrimage promoted by OFTAL (Federated Work for the Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes) and by MAC (Apostolic Movement for the Blind).

  Both OFTAL, officially founded in 1932, and MAC, the origins of which date back to 1928, "represent experiences of fraternal unity, based on the Gospel and capable of making people in difficulty (in this case the sick and the blind) full participants in the life of the ecclesial community, and builders of a civilization of love."

  Benedict XVI recalled how Fr. Alessandro Rastelli, founder of OFTAL, had travelled to Lourdes after suffering an accident. "The experience of his illness made him particularly sensitive to the message of Mary Immaculate, who called him to return to the Grotto of Massabielle, initially in the company of just one sick person - and this is highly significant - and subsequently at the head of a diocesan pilgrimage with more than 300 people, 30 of them sick."

  Maria Motta, blind since birth, founder of MAC, "was an apostle of the sightless," said the Pope. "From the spiritual 'network' she formed there grew an association, made up of diocesan groups from all over Italy and approved by Blessed John XXIII with the name of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind."

  The members of OFTAL, with "their experience of pilgrimage with the sick," show "a strong sign of faith and solidarity between people" said Pope Benedict, "ignoring their own cares and problems to start out towards a shared goal, a place of the spirit: Lourdes, the Holy Land, Fatima and other shrines."

  He described the members of MAC as "bearers of your own special experience, that of walking together, side by side, the sightless and the sighted. This is a testimony of how Christian love enables handicaps to be overcome, and of how to live diversity in a positive way as an opportunity to open up to others, attentive to their problems but above all to their gifts."

  "The Church," the Pope concluded, "also needs your contribution in order to be able to respond fully and faithfully to the will of the Lord. And the same can be said of civil society: humanity needs your gifts, which are a prophecy of the Kingdom of God. Do not be frightened by the limits and scarcity of resources, God loves to achieve His work with poor means.
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Friday, March 16, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Alfonso Rivero Monsalve, the new ambassador of Peru to the Holy See, asking the diplomat to pass on his "respectful greetings to Alan Garcia Perez," Peruvian president, and "to the beloved people of Peru."

  "This meeting calls to mind the profound ties that have existed and continue to exist between your nation and the Church," said Benedict XVI. And he recalled how "the Catholic faith, taken there by evangelizers such as St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, ... became accepted and slowly penetrated the cultural and social fabric of that blessed people among whom the first saints of Latin America soon appeared," such as "Rose of Lima, Martin de Porres, Francis Solano, Juan Macias, and the Blessed Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo."

  The Pope went on to refer to "the profound changes" that Peru is facing in the context of "social, political and economic transformations," observing that such processes "have a direct effect upon people and their values."

  "We know," he said, "that Peru wishes to respond effectively to the phenomenon of globalization, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by economic growth to ensure that the resulting wealth and other social advantages reach everyone in an equitable way. Peruvians ... also hope that health services may serve all social categories, that education may be available to everyone, ... and that corruption may be contrasted with an integrity that enables the effective operation of public institutions, thus helping to overcome so many situations of hunger and misery."

  "Furthermore," the Holy Father continued, "there is a pressing need for unity of intent among leaders to ensure they face the challenges of a globalized world ... with true solidarity. The Church, which recognizes the State's role in social, political and economic questions, assumes as her duty - deriving from her evangelizing mission - the protection and proclamation of the truth about human beings, about the meaning of life and its final destiny, which is God. She is the source of inspiration ensuring that the dignity of the person and of life, from conception to natural end, is recognized and protected, as guaranteed by the Peruvian Constitution."

  "From the Apostolic See," Pope Benedict continued, "we will continue to support all social efforts currently being made in favor of equality of opportunity," and to ensure "that each Peruvian feels their inalienable rights are respected," and that "the Peruvian episcopate continues to foment, in the light of the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine, the search for truth in the family, the workplace and the socio-political field."

  "The Church, aware of her religious mission (and for that reason sublimely human), and of her duty to propose the truth to all mankind (who as children of God have a superior dignity that comes before all positive law), will continue to work to reach these objectives," the Pope concluded. Moreover, as "an expert in humanity she teaches that only by respecting moral law which defends and protects the dignity of the human person, can peace by built, favoring stable social progress."
CD/LETTERS OF CREDENCE/PERU:RIVERO            VIS 20070316 (540)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Domenico Caliandro of Nardo-Gallipoli.

    - Archbishop Donato Negro of Otranto.

    - Bishop Vito De Grisantis of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca.

    - Bishop Pietro Maria Fragnelli of Castellaneta.

    - Bishop Michele Castoro of Oria.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AL:AP/.../...                                VIS 20070316 (90)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was the final declaration of the 13th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which held an international congress in the Vatican from February 23 to 24 on the theme "Christian conscience in support of the right to life."

  Among other things, the assembly declared that the "test bed" of Christian conscience "is in the healthcare profession when it faces the duty of protecting human life and the risk of finding itself in situations of cooperation with evil in the application of professional duties." In such situations "the due exercise of 'decided contentious objection' assumes great importance."

  The declaration highlights the need "for mobilization of all those concerned with human life, a mobilization that must also extend to the political field. An indispensable requirement of justice is respect for the principle of equality, which requires the protection of everyone's rights, especially of the weakest and most defenseless."
ACAD-V/INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS/...            VIS 20070316 (170)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today published a communique announcing the Holy Father's forthcoming trip to Brazil from May 9 to 14, for the occasion of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, due to be held in the city of Aparecida. During the course of the trip, the Pope will also visit the archdioceses of Sao Paulo and Aparecida.
OP/APOSTOLIC TRIP/BRAZIL                    VIS 20070316 (80)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received participants in the annual course on the internal forum promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  In his address, Benedict XVI considered the importance of the Sacrament of Penance and the need for priests to prepare themselves to administer it with devotion and faithfulness to God, for the sanctification of Christian people.

  "We all," said the Holy Father, "need to draw from the inexhaustible spring of divine love, which was made totally manifest to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find true peace with God, with ourselves and with our fellow man. Only from this spiritual spring is it possible to draw the interior energy indispensable for defeating evil and sin in the ceaseless struggle that marks our earthly pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland."

  The Pope highlighted how in the modern world "we see a humanity that wishes for self sufficiency, where no small number of people almost feel they can do without God to live well; and yet, how many seem sadly condemned to face ... empty lives, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs upon the soul of man in the era of communication! In a word, it seems today that we have lost a 'sense of sin' ... but have increased our 'complex of guilt'."

  "May priests, ministers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, always feel that their task is to make known the merciful love of God, both through words and in their approach to penitents. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, welcome penitent sinners, help them to arise from their sin and encourage them to make amends, never compromising with evil but resuming the journey towards evangelical perfection."

  Priests, said the Holy Father, must be animated by a constant longing for sanctity. In order to carry out their "important mission," as confessors they "must remain faithful to the Church's Magisterium in matters of moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by situations, but by God."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling upon the Virgin, Mother of Mercy, "to support the ministry of priest confessors and to help Christian communities to understand the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of all the faithful."
AC/SACRAMENT PENANCE/...                    VIS 20070316 (410)

Thursday, March 15, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, as metropolitan archbishop of Eger, (area 11,500, population 1,260,000, Catholics 690,000, priests 223, permanent deacons 8, religious 70), Hungary. He succeeds Archbishop Istvan Seregely, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Anthony Ward S.M., bureau chief at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as under-secretary of the same congregation.

 - Appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the centenary of the evangelization of Ghana, due to take place at Navrongo, Ghana, on April 23.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of military ordinary for Hungary, presented by Archbishop Tamas Szabo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
NER:RE:NA/.../...                            VIS 20070315 (140)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Francescio Pio Tamburrino O.S.B., of Foggia-Bovino.

    - Bishop Felice di Molfetta of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano.

    - Bishop Franceso Zerrillo of Lucera-Troia.

    - Bishop Lucio Angelo Renna O. Carm., of San Severo.

    - Bishop Luigi Martella of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi.

    - Archbishop Benigno Luigi Papa O.F.M. Cap., of Taranto.

    - Archbishop Rocco Talucci of Brindisi-Ostuni.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
AL:AP/.../...                                    VIS 20070315 (110)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Ludovikus Simanullang O.F.M. Cap., provincial of the Friars Minor Capuchins in Sibolga as bishop of Sibolga (area 26,413, population 2,284,170, Catholics 197,383, priests 63, religious 182), Indonesia. The bishop-elect was born in Sogar, Indonesia in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1983.
NER/.../SIMANULLANG                        VIS 20070314 (60)

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